Peter Lik’s Tree? No, it’s not.

The Tree.

Dragons Breath - Aaron Reed Photography

In the city of Portland, Oregon there is a world-famous Japanese Maple tree, located just inside the gates of the Portland Japanese Garden just waiting to capture your spirit and imagination. When you visit the garden and see this tree in person, or view beautiful photographs like the ones I share with you below, you may fantasize about the magic of this tree and the story of where it came from. It is difficult not to envision a small world of fairies or other mythical creatures creating homes here, built from the small ferns that surround it, scavenging the “forest” for mushrooms and other edibles. In reality, this glorious Japanese Maple that helps draw over a quarter million visitors each year to the garden, may have much more humble beginnings than you may think.

History of the Garden

In 1958, Portland became a sister city to Sapporo, Japan, helping to create a broad interest in Japanese culture. Soon after, several business leaders and the Mayor of Portland decided it would be wonderful for Portland to have a traditional Japanese Garden. On June 4th, 1962, the City Council created a commission to establish the garden on the site of the former Washington Park Zoo. The Japanese Garden Society of Oregon was formed in 1963 by Portland citizens interested in promoting a more intimate relationship between the Peoples of Japan and our city and state. Takuma Tono, a Tokyo Agricultural University professor and internationally recognized authority on Japanese landscape design, was commissioned to design and supervise the development of the garden and he began landscaping the garden that year. In the summer of 1967, the Portland Japanese Garden formally opened to the public. The 5.5-acre Japanese garden is composed of five separate gardens: Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Flat Garden, and Sand and Stone Garden.

Back to the Tree

Firebird - Aaron Reed Photography

This beautiful Japanese Maple tree that so many have grown to love, was not an original planting in the garden. No one is 100% sure of exactly when it was planted, or where it came from. Speaking to Adam Hart, Senior Gardener of the garden, after looking through historical photographs, I was told that this laceleaf maple was most likely planted sometime around 1971 and is between 65-70 years old. According to Mr. Hart, the tree was not very impressive when it was first planted, so there aren’t many photographs of it from those early days and the photographs he could find showed a fairly small and unspectacular specimen. The origin of the tree is also a mystery, but many of the laceleaf maples were donated from people in the community and while we are not sure that this was the case, you can see other spectacular laceleaf maples in the yards of beautiful homes along the road leading to the garden.

A Tree for all Seasons

Each and every season brings about change and rebirth inside the garden and the tree is no exception. It is spectacular all year round and an incredible photographic subject any time of the year.

White Lightning - Winter - Aaron Reed Photography

White Lightning – Winter – Aaron Reed Photography

Green Dragon - Spring - Aaron Reed Photography

Green Dragon – Spring – Aaron Reed Photography

Believe In Magic - Fall - Aaron Reed Photography

Believe In Magic – Fall – Aaron Reed Photography

The Peter Lik Effect

World renowned, Australian born photographer Peter Lik has captured numerous images of this tree throughout the years including pieces titled “Tree of Life” “Tree of Zen” and “Inner Peace”. With galleries around the world combined with the natural beauty of the tree itself, it is no wonder that almost every time I share a photograph of the tree someone says “It’s the Peter Lik Tree” or, “I have loved this tree ever since I saw Peter Lik’s version of it…and yours is as good or better!” I guess it just goes to show how the success of an image can follow you and in some ways become a part of who you are as a photographer.

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and spent the majority of my life there. In 2008, when I picked up my first camera, I began looking for places inside the city that I could photograph and stumbled across an out of focus, dreamy interpretation of this tree by a fellow photographer named Zeb Andrews. I had never heard of Peter Lik at this time and Zeb’s image was the only one I had ever seen before visiting the garden myself in the fall of that year. I have returned every year since then, capturing the tree in all four seasons.

In early 2013 I began offering a portion of my work as limited edition pieces, including the majority of my photographs of this beautiful tree. Since then I have sold hundreds of pieces from this collection, with the majority of them being large format prints on high gloss ChromaLuxe aluminum sheeting. Living Lightning, released in February 2013, has currently sold 130 of the 200 pieces in the limited edition. Dragon’s Breath, also a limited edition of 200 was released in November 2013 and has sold the first 40 pieces in just the past 7 months. The success of these images has even caused some to start calling this tree the Aaron Reed tree which I think it equally humorous to calling it Peter Lik’s.

Despite what others may think or how they choose to reference it, this majestic tree is not Peter Lik’s, nor is it mine, nor anyone else. The greatest value of this tree lies in the fact that it is there for everyone to see, to wonder, to experience and to share in a weird little city called Portland. :) For those who may have never been and would like to see the garden during the peak of fall color, the 3rd week in October is a pretty good bet for a time to choose to visit. Don’t hesitate, because this tree can change from green to orange to red and finally drop its leaves all in the course of a week. If you do visit, I hope you enjoy the tree and the rest of the garden as much as I have and will continue to, year after year.

If you are interested in purchasing pieces from my Limited Edition collection, including all of my captures of this tree including “Dragon’s Breath”, “Living Lightning”, “The Green Dragon”, “White Lightning”, “Believe In Magic” and my newest addition “Firebird”, please visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com or simply send me a message below:

Living Lightning - Aaron Reed Photography

Living Lightning – Aaron Reed Photography

Aaron Reed Photography Artist Proof & First Prints

Beginning today, I have officially started releasing Artist Proof’s (AP) and First Printings (FP) of select pieces from my Limited Edition Collection. Before today, these were only offered to priority clients who purchased multiple pieces from my collection. Limited selections have now been opened to the public and are available through my website.

About Artist Proof’s – AP

In addition to my Limited Edition pieces that are held to 50, 100 or 200 total pieces depending on the specific piece, I also offer 1 Artist Proof (AP) of each piece. All Artist Proofs are printed at 30″ x 45″ on High Gloss Hi Def ChromaLuxe with Museum Grade backing and are ready to hang with no framing required. Each of these Artist Proofs are signed and numbered with A/P #1 of 1. Only 1 Artist Proof of each image will ever be printed, increasing their value and rarity. Each of these pieces is an investment and will increase in value at a higher rate than pieces from the body of the collection itself. Each Artist Proof requires an investment of $2500.

First Printing – FP

When I designate one of my pieces as a Limited Edition piece, I choose the total number of prints to be offered in the collection. I withhold the First Printing (FP) of each piece in the collection to keep for myself, or to be offered as the very last print sold of that Limited Edition. The First Printings are also printed on High Gloss Hi Def ChromaLuxe Metal sheeting at 30″ x 45″ with Museum Grade backing and are ready to hang. These pieces are signed 1/50, 1/100 or 1/200 depending on the piece. Hand selected pieces are chosen based on overall popularity and can now be purchased in advance of the selection selling out. As with Artist Proofs, First Printing’s also carry a higher value and will increase in value at a faster rate than pieces from the body of the collection itself. First Printing pieces require an investment of $2000 for each piece.

To be sure that your selected piece is available, please contact me directly to receive an invoice for purchase. Artist Proofs and First Printings can both be personalized, making these an incredible opportunity to purchase as a gift for a loved one or business partner.

More of my work, including my entire Limited Edition collection can be seen at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com

UPDATE 5/22/14 The Artist Proof’s for The Sea Serpent, Kings and The Prowling Panther all sold today and are no longer available.

AP and Firsts 1500 UPDATED

Limited Edition Hi-Def ChromaLuxe Metal Prints by Aaron Reed

Limited Edition Fine Art Luxury Nature Photography ChromaLuxe Hi-Def Metal Prints by Aaron Reed

High Definition, high gloss Metal Prints produced with Industry leading ChromaLuxe products are my preferred method of displaying the vast majority of my work. Metal prints are a brand new and exciting way to produce high quality photographic prints that are unsurpassed in beauty, depth, detail & durability. Metal prints using ChromaLuxe panels are scratch resistant, waterproof, will not yellow or fade over time. Two independent and highly respected research and testing laboratories have conducted environmental life tests on ChromaLuxe Photo Panels and have concluded that ChromaLuxe Hi_Def Metal prints are the longest lasting photo medium in the market.

The UV resistant coating is bonded to .045” aluminum sheeting that in turn is used to create a fine art piece using a process called Sublimation. A digital image is printed onto a special transfer paper and then using a heat press, the transfer paper is pressed onto the surface of the aluminum sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the sublimation inks to “transfer” from the paper directly into the poly-based coating. The print is not ON the surface of the aluminum but fused INTO the surface of the piece.

The vibrancy and dimensionality of ChromaLuxe products rivals any photographic product and exceeds the quality of traditional paper prints when placed behind inherently imperfect glass. My limited edition prints created with this product and process are simply second to none.

I offer all of my prints, including my Limited Edition collection in three sizes (36 x 24, 45 x 30 & 60 x 40) All three sizes come supported with various types of professional backing materials that create a ready to hang piece that does not require framing of any kind.

If you would like to learn more about ChromaLuxe products and their incredible durability, check out this video below. To see all of my available Limited Edition Fine Art prints using this incredible printing process please visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com

Limited Edition Hi-Def ChromaLuxe Metal Prints by Aaron Reed

The Rise – Image Of The Week 20% Sold Out – Aaron Reed Photography

The Rise

This week my image of the week is another limited edition piece from my collection titled “The Rise of Mt. Shuksan”. This piece is a limited edition of 200 and is over 20% SOLD OUT. If you are interested in purchasing one of my limited edition pieces please visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com

From Wiki:

Mount Shuksan is a glaciated massif in the North Cascades National Park. Shuksan rises in Whatcom County, Washington immediately to the east of Mount Baker, and 11.6 miles (18.7 km) south of the Canadian border. The mountain’s name Shuksan is derived from the Lummi word [šéqsən], said to mean “high peak”. The highest point on the mountain is a three sided peak known as Summit Pyramid. There are two named subsidiary peaks: Nooksack Tower and The Hourglass.

The mountain is composed of Shuksan greenschist, oceanic basalt that was metamorphosed when the Easton terrane collided with the west coast of North America, approximately 120 million years ago. The mountain is an eroded remnant of a thrust plate formed by the Easton collision.
West side view of Mount Shuksan in summer as seen from Artist Point

Shuksan is one of the most photographed mountains in the Cascade Range. Photographs with its reflection in Highwood Lake near Mount Baker Ski Area are particularly common. The Mount Baker Highway, State Route 542, is kept open during the winter to support the ski area; in late summer, the road to Artist Point allows visitors to travel a few miles higher for a closer view of the peak.

Echoes Of Fall – Brand New Image Release – Limited Edition of 100

Echoes Of Fall – Brand New Image Release – Limited Edition of 100 – Aaron Reed Photography

Echos Of Fall medium

This weeks image of the week is a brand new release titled “Echoes Of Fall” a limited edition piece limited to just 100 total prints. This image of a beautiful grove of Aspen trees and underlying fall foliage was captured on a quiet foggy morning in October 2013. The contrast between the stark white trunks and the reds and oranges of autumn make for a wonderful combination. If you are interested in purchasing a piece from this collection or any of my limited edition pieces please visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com

Eternal Beauty – Image of the Week – Limited Edition of 50 – 25% SOLD OUT

Eternal Beauty – Image of the Week – Limited Edition of 50 – 25% SOLD OUT

Aaron Reed Photography – http://www.aaronreedphotography.com/

Eternal Beauty

This week’s Image Of The Week is a Limited Edition piece titled ETERNAL BEAUTY. This image captured from the upper portion of Rainier National Park is limited to just 50 pieces. The first 12 have already sold and this is one I expect to sell out quickly. This image showcases the beauty and wonder of Rainier National Park during the summer months when wildflowers blanket the hills & valleys of the park. Low lying fog in the valley and nice soft light from the rising sun make for an incredible scene. This piece is sure to brighten up any home or office and with the larger Metal prints that I offer, the clarity & detail of this piece allow you to feel like you are there.

Because of the edition of just 50 total pieces available, the price of this piece will increase at a sharper rate as the edition sells. If you are interested in owning this piece for yourself, it would be wise to purchase it soon before the price goes up. This piece, as well as my entire collection of limited edition prints can be found on my website linked above or by clicking the graphic to the right.

From NPS: http://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.

For LOVE or MONEY?

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There are two distinct but quite different types of people who purchase artwork of any variety including fine art photography, the connoisseur and the collector. There are yet others who are a combination of the two that appreciate beautiful art, a great value and the opportunity to see a return on their investment. I would like to share with you how you can have the best of both worlds and how one man in Phoenix, Arizona has turned his business and his love for art into an amazing gallery for all to enjoy.

A collector will usually choose a piece that already holds significant value in the eyes of the general public & the art world. This does not mean they do not also enjoy the piece, it simply means that their first priority is usually the value of the piece and whether or not they expect this value to rise in the future. Before anything else it is a business decision. This type of collector often cares very deeply about how those around them feel about their purchase and many times will choose a piece simply for bragging rights or for show.

The connoisseur simply appreciates quality artwork. As with any form of artwork, the piece still needs to speak to the person considering it for purchase yet the current value and potential investment are less of a concern, if a concern at all. The connoisseur will fall in love with a piece, without concern about how others feel about it. The piece will usually create a deep connection with them, whether tied to a past experience, a precious memory, a friend or family member or simply a beautiful feeling. Whatever the reason, this person purchases a piece for the LOVE of the art.

In the world of nature photography, there are countless photographers offering you their interpretation of the world around them. Unlike a painter or sculptor, any two photographers can stand in the same place and create beautiful images of what they see through the lens of their camera. Both of these visions may be appealing to you as someone considering a piece of art for your home or business, but typically only one will stand out, or speak to you on a deeper level. In my opinion, this is the voice you should listen to when you consider a piece of nature or landscape photography because ultimately nothing else matters. A piece of fine art photography from a well-known artist currently valued at $35,000 may be worth $10,000 or less five years from now. In contrast, a piece from an up and coming artist currently costing just $1,000 hypothetically has much more room for growth in value as well as less investment risk. In addition, if you can find an artist whose work you appreciate for the art itself, you may be able to purchase multiple pieces from them, bringing even greater beauty and real value to yourself and those you are sharing this work with.

For example, world-famous photographer Peter Lik regularly commands prices in the tens of thousands for his work. He offers limited editions that can be as large as 950 pieces, including up to 45 artist proofs. If you purchase one of these pieces, say number 145/950, and the edition never sells out, chances are the piece you purchased will not increase in value over time because the gallery that sold you the piece is still offering this same piece in their collection. One way to determine the actual current value is to take a look on the auction site eBay. One of these same pieces that the gallery lists for $35,000 or more, may be currently offered from multiple sellers, for far below the price currently being offered by the gallery. If you purchase this piece today as an investment, you may find yourself needing to sell it at a time when the market is soft, causing you a significant loss on your investment.

These are just a few of the reasons that I suggest purchasing a piece that you fall in LOVE with first, considering its current and perceived value second to that. This will help protect you from potential disappointment and possible regret in the future. I am a fine art nature photographer who chooses to offer my work at a great value to my clients. Many of the pieces I sell have very low profit margins. While I do operate a successful business with my photography and hope to continue to do so in the near future, I also enjoy being able to offer my customers high quality fine art luxury nature photography at affordable prices.

Last week, a gentleman named Charles, an Orthopedic Surgeon from Phoenix, Arizona recognized this value and capitalized on it in a major way for him and his clients. A doctor’s or dentist office is the perfect place for high quality nature photography due to the aesthetic and soothing properties it can bring to those who view it. Instead of purchasing just one piece of fine art photography for $35,000 or more, Charles was able to purchase a total of 34 amazing pieces of limited edition artwork for his office, transforming it from an uninviting office building into an amazing art gallery! The pieces Charles purchased, were all Limited Edition Metal Prints that I offer ranging in size from fully framed pieces measuring 36″ wide x 24″ tall, all the way to 80″ wide by 43″ tall. The majority of these pieces were larger than 45″ x 30″. After receiving a large quantity discount, for just under $25,000 Charles was able to completely fill the large office as well as every single patient room with beautiful nature photography. In addition, the Limited Editions that I offer range from just 50 to 200 total pieces, with some of them already nearing 75% sold out. The potential for increased value in these pieces is very promising, but this value has already been surpassed by the peace and serenity that has been given to his clients on a daily basis.

The choice is yours, for LOVE or money, investment or real value. The images above and below this post are the ones Charles ultimately decided on and if you ever find yourself on the unfortunate end of serious injury in Phoenix, you may just find yourself in a room full of beautiful art. The much more pleasant way to go of course would be to visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and choose a few pieces for yourself. As always, I want to say thank you to those of you that support up and coming artists like myself and hope you are able to appreciate my work for many years to come.

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Front Page Website Final

Dragon’s Breath – Brand New Fine Art Release from Aaron Reed

Autumn has always been my favorite season, long before I became a photographer. The crisp cool air and the changing foliage are two things I have always enjoyed and continue to, year after year. As a photographer, autumn brings opportunity to capture dynamic & changing colors in new and exciting ways. For me, it is like seeing something for the first time, all over again and because it comes and goes so quickly it is very magical to me.

Those of you that follow my work are most likely aware of the popularity of one of my pieces titled Living Lightning. This piece, an image of a famous Japanese Maple tree, was captured at the peak of autumn color and was released as a limited edition of 200 in February of this year. Since that release, it has sold 106 of the 200 available pieces making it my most popular fine art limited edition piece to date. Aside from that fact, there had always been something missing. Something I had hoped to capture but had been unable to…until now.

I have been photographing this tree every year since I first picked up a camera. This beautiful Japanese Maple is located in the Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. Ultimately, many of these art lovers end up on my website where I offer fine art limited editions of this tree in every season.

This year was no different for me and as the weather changed and the season came upon us I made my plans to photograph this beautiful example of our natural world once again. I spent two mornings creating images with one goal in mind. My goal was to photograph not just the tree, but the change of seasons itself. I wanted to capture the precise time when this tree turns from the green leaves of summer, to the red leaves of autumn and ultimately a fiery orange. This process happens extremely quickly. Once the leaves begin to change it is only a matter of 7 to 14 days to change and ultimately drop its leaves to the ground. The window to capture the tree as I envisioned it was a day or two at best.

There were technical considerations that had to be taken into account to achieve my goal. The leaves of this tree are so fine, they are almost translucent in some areas. Capturing the subtle color shifts took great attention to detail and technical skill behind the camera and again when processing the original images.

When I finally made it home and looked at my images, only one of the hundreds of images that I captured spoke to me and made me feel I had accomplished my goal. I am proud of this image. I set out to capture the very essence of nature and I believe I have accomplished just that.

Without further introduction, please take a moment and look at my achievement, my newest release titled Dragon’s Breath. This image is a limited edition of only 200 pieces, and the price will rise as the edition sells out. To own a part of this piece and honestly a part of my ambition, please see my website at http://www.aaronreedphotogrpahy.com

Dragons Breath

Part III: Don’t Ask Why….Ask When?

The Tree

In part two of this series I talked about overcoming self doubt. This is a stumbling block that affects us all, as photographers and people in general. With the constant barrage of high quality imagery regularly shared on various social media sites it is easy to get caught up in the madness and the noise inside your head.

So here you are, increasingly excited about your new-found joy and it has started to take on a life of its own. You have started making new friends out of complete strangers on the internet. For the first time in your life you have not one, but THREE or more favorite weather outlets that you look to for information about upcoming forecasts. You have started regularly finding yourself outside at 4 o’clock in the morning with your camera pointing it at the ground, the sky and the trees. You have even begun to visualize compositions in the passing scenery as you drive in your car. You my friend have a sickness, the disease of photographic obsession.

It has been a year or so now since you got serious about photography. People on the internet and your friends and family have started showing appreciation of your images. A co-worker expressed an even greater interest and after telling you how amazing & beautiful your image was they asked you if you sell your work! You feel like a rock star now. In the five minutes since they asked you to sell them a print you haven’t heard another word they have said. You are engaged in a fantasy inside your own mind where you have quit your job and find yourself repelling out of a helicopter onto a secluded beach. You have your camera in one hand and a pen in the other, ready to sign autographs for the group of loyal fans that have been waiting for you to land since last night. One of them even has a t-shirt with your face on it….

You snap back to reality when your boss, with a very unpleasant look on his face, asks you about the report that was due 2 hours ago. You realize that if you are ever going to be able to quit your day job to become a professional photographer, you better start selling some prints. You just sold an 8” x 10” print to your co worker for $20. It cost you $7 to have it printed and $4 to have it shipped to your house. You do some simple math and you realize that to make a respectable income from your photography you are going to need to sell approximately 6500 more 8 x 10’s. Ok, maybe you should try for some larger print sales. If you think I am talking to you, sit back and relax because it’s going to be a long ride but I honestly want to try to help you. I would like to see you to succeed.

It is crucial that you realize that this is not the music industry, nor are you an actor or actress. No one is going to “discover” you and propel you into fame & untold riches. Besides, despite what your Mom keeps saying you are just not that good yet. If you want to sell your work you are going to have to dig deep and sell yourself. Some call it salesmanship, others call it hustle. Whatever you choose to call it, you need to get some of it fast. There are a finite number of potential customers out there and a seemingly infinite number of aspiring photographers and many of them are extremely dedicated and producing VERY good work on a regular basis.

Here is where the twist comes in. I know many amazing photographers who rarely sell anything. It’s not that they don’t want to; they just don’t know how to sell themselves. I also know many less than amazing photographers and even some terrible ones who seem to sell their work right and left. So what is the secret? What more can I do to sell my work? Tune in to part four of this series, don’t ask why…ask what and I will try to answer this burning question for you. In the meantime, if you enjoy looking at pretty pictures please have a look at my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and consider a print or two. I still have a few thousand to go this year. ;) Thank you again for following this series and sharing with friends and family who may find it helpful. I truly appreciate it.

Part II: Don’t Ask Why…Ask How.

Vertigo

In the introduction to this series I touched on the importance of emotional connection and how it relates to sales and expanding your customer base. You learned, maybe for the first time, that you may be marketing the wrong work to the wrong people at the wrong time. Now that’s just wrong!  I left off part one of this series promising to share with you some of the business ideas that have allowed me to be successful in marketing my work. We talked about why not, and before we get to where, we need to talk about how.

I want you to read the following sentence at least twice. The single most important factor to your success as a photographer both creatively and successfully is to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. While this seems like a no brainer, this is a challenge for many photographers because before we can become our greatest advocate, we need to stop being our own worst critic. If you regularly tell yourself and the people around you that you suck then guess what….. I don’t even need to tell you. Indulging in self doubt will place a strangle hold on your creativity and if left unaddressed feeds on itself and grows over time. No matter where you are in your journey as a photographer, make a conscious effort to fight self doubt with creativity. Allow yourself the freedom to be YOU. Capture the images that make you happy and be grateful for the moment instead of continually thinking about chasing that next shot.

This brings me to my second, but equally important idea that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side of the fence. While there certainly is value in evaluating others work, constantly comparing your work to the work of others can be extremely unhealthy and helps feed the self doubt that destroys our creativity. The fact is, in your own mind there will always be someone better than you. Even if this is true, there is no value at all in internalizing this self defeating idea. A much more productive practice is to compare your work to your own previous work. This self evaluation builds confidence and allows your creativity to continue to grow at a healthy pace. Continuing to challenge yourself is a crucial part of your journey, no matter where you hope to end up.

The third idea I would like to share with you is simple. Never let anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong. Photography is and always will be subjective. For every one person who tells you that you are doing it right, there are two willing to tell you that you are doing it wrong. I truly believe that our individual creative paths will always lead us to the same place. How long it takes you to get there is the question. If you listen to the noise, you might miss something important. If you are only interested in photographing moss and insects that is great! Never shot film before…who cares? If you want to capture 9 exposures of the same image and tone map the hell out of them that is your business. No one knows more about being you than YOU and anyone who tries to tell you that you aren’t doing it right is wrong in more ways than one.

The final thought I will leave you with today is to know where you’re going, even if you aren’t going anywhere. Having an idea of what you hope to achieve with your photography will save you time, money and stress. If you hope to sell stock photography one day, start building a rock solid file structure today. If you want to sell prints, learn about the printing process and start printing large images now. If you are looking for an image critique, burn off a 24” x 36” print and just look at it. It will provide a wealth of opportunities for growth. Building a rock solid foundation now will pay back dividends in future years. Plan for the future but don’t sacrifice what’s truly important. After all, they are just photographs. Stay tuned for part 3 of this series titled Don’t Ask Why…Ask When? Thanks for reading and leaving your comments below. Please consider sharing this blog with those you feel may benefit from it.

Don’t Ask Why…Ask Why Not?

Eternal Beauty

The most frequently asked questions I receive from friends and strangers alike surround how I market myself & work, what works and what doesn’t. I am blessed that I am able to generate a moderate income from my photography without traveling to the ends of the earth, neglecting the personal relationships in my life, or giving up all hope of retiring one day…..hopefully WITH health insurance.

A few years ago when I realized that I COULD actually generate an income from my photography (thanks for buying those prints Mom!), I thought long & hard about the path I wanted to take and if I wanted to attempt to make this a full time profession at all. I quickly decided that as much as I love photography & the great outdoors, traveling to the ends of the earth 200+ days out of the year, away from friends and family, all without the security of a full time job was just not for me. Aside from the overall risks personally and financially, I just didn’t want to lose the most important part of photography to me…the simple joy that it brings me. As much as we all love to fanaticize about our passion leading to undying fame and untold riches, quitting your job, cashing in your 401k and hitting the road in your Honda Element may not be such a great idea. I mean, if it was THAT easy, I would have tore the sleeves off my jean jacket and started talking with an Australian accent a long time ago.

This brings us back to the question at hand. You jumped in with both feet and bought that shiny new Nikon D800 or 5D3. You have the tripod, the filters and a lens for every occasion. You have Photoshop, Lightroom, Nik, OnOne AND Photomatix and you STILL aren’t as popular as Trey Ratcliff. You are drowning in +1’s, likes, hearts & glitter graphics and even hash tag entire paragraphs online and still….no one is buying your work. This is the point at which most photographers start asking themselves why and questioning whether or not their work is good at all. The question should not be why….but why not?

The images that your photography friends like and the ones you personally feel are your best images are NOT the same ones that will be selling to real customers. Take that glorious sunrise image you captured from the top of Mt. Rainier that you are sure is going to be a hit. The question you need to ask yourself is what can this image be used for? Sure, it could be used for Washington tourism, or to sell climbing gear or some other mountaineering product but the list is short and very limited. The second problem is that the better your composition is (in the eyes of yourself and your fellow photographers) the less desirable it is as a marketable image. Customers need space for their products and information. Your perfectly crafted image does not allow for that. Now ask yourself how a picture of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco may be used. It can sell California tourism and anything associated with California. It can be used to advertise almost any business in San Francisco and the surrounding area. Because it sits in one of the world’s most popular destinations, it can be used for airline & auto industries and almost any aspect of travel in general. The possibilities are endless.

The same is true for fine art prints. 15% of my photography revenue last year came from selling prints. I expect that number to rise to 25% this year. These prints are VERY rarely the images I am most proud of or the ones I would choose to hang in my own home. People need to connect to a piece before they purchase it. It needs to evoke an emotion for them. I’m not talking about a simple emotional wonder of the beauty of a landscape; I mean a deep personal emotion. They are buying it because their youngest child goes to school there, or because they got married there. They are buying it because their fondest memory was created there during a vacation taken with their mother just before she passed away. Sometimes they are buying it simply because it matches the colors of their home and looks good over the back of their couch. I sold a collection of ten 30” x 45” canvases a few months back for over $5,000 and all of them were abstracts. I see you reaching for that macro lens!

The point I am trying to make here is that you can find success in your own backyard without giving up your stability, your free time or your family life. You can continue to enjoy your own personal photography and generate revenue from it on the side without being a full time photographer.

I have decided to take more time to share the things that I have learned in the past few years as a photographer on this blog. Stay tuned for the second installment of this post tiled don’t ask why….ask how? This will come in the next few days and will hold a wealth of valuable ideas on how to market your work. Till then, if you would like to find a personal connection with one of my images or are interested in high quality imagery to help promote your business please visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and if you want to spend some personal time with me learning more about photography and how I do what I do, please consider one of my in the field workshops at http://www.exposurenorthwestphotography.com Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this article. If you have specific questions that you would like answered in a future article, please leave them in the comments below.