What’s An Odd Tog?
It’s so tempting to start a list of what an odd tog isn’t. I bet you’ve visited a lot of sites like that, they come up with a catch phrase and proceed to define it by what it’s not. That would be so easy, and before I know it I would have this page filled with rhetorical nonsense. You see, the reason it’s easy is because it’s been done before — ad nauseum. It’s an established, accepted way to explain what you’re talking about — so established that it makes you sick. So I’m going out on a limb, I’m going to tell you what an odd tog is, here we go.
- An odd tog finds a way to stand apart from the crowd.
- An odd tog knows how to value their own work.
- An odd tog is many things besides a photographer..
- An odd tog is their own publicist.
- An odd tog embraces change.
- An odd tog knows there is only so many hours in a day.
- An odd tog is as creative with their business model as they are with their photography.
- An odd tog cares very little what you think of them.
- An odd tog sees the world with fresh eyes.
- An odd tog is always adding to their toolbox.
- An odd tog sees other photographers as comrades, not competition.
- An odd tog is always refining their craft.
I could go on, but I hope this is a good starting point. Suffice it to say, an odd tog is exceptional. You probably look up to them, are inspired by their work and give you motivation to become a better photographer. An odd tog is somebody’s photography hero.
Can Everyone Become An Odd Tog?
Yes. Let me say that again, yes. Let me say that three times — yes, yes, yes. How can I say that? Isn’t there only a fixed group of clients in the world and way too many photographers? No. Unlike other professions, photography has limitless potential as well as unlimited applications. I’m reminded of the movie Stand and Deliver. The movie is about an inspirational math teacher mentoring a group of troubled students. He was attempting to convey to his students the necessity of math in any profession they wished to pursue. In every instance, the teacher pointed out that each child’s career path would require math to some degree or another. Photography may not be as universally needed as math, but it’s very, very close. Most industries use photography in one form or another. Every self-employed person needs photography. Every company that has a website (i.e. all companies) will need photography. To take this point one step further, while math is necessary, there are many people who don’t like it — I can’t think of one person that I know who doesn’t like photography. That’s called demand — when everyone likes and needs something.
Obstacles To Becoming An Odd Tog
I believe everything written above 110%, but I’m also a pragmatist and want you to know the obstacles you will face. Here’s a few:
1. The world is full of haters
This is huge. Pessimists will drain your enthusiasm and energy if you let it. Keep your chin up, try to surround yourself with supportive mentors and you’ll be well on your way.
2. Lots of photographers = intimidation
As with any mature industry, you’re going to have lots of people with more experience, better training, more established clientele, etc. Get out there and do it. If you’ve got drive and a good head on your shoulders you’re gonna make it.
3. Market is too saturated / economy is bad / can’t make a living with photography
Most people spouting this nonsense couldn’t define a market or an economy if they had to. Economies and markets are complicated. There’s no such thing as a photography market anymore. It’s like saying the business market is bad — utter baloney. Photography is an industry with lots of small markets encompassed within it. If there’s not a profitable market within it that suits you, you’re gonna have to create one. Good news, there’s lots of undiscovered possibilities.
4. I’m no good at ___________
None of us are good at everything. We all have some skills and we all lack some skills. That’s part of life. Good news is you can acquire any skill if you’re willing to put in the time and research. Some skills are not practical to obtain in pursuit of your larger goals. This is good too, that means you’ll need consultants. Bottom line is that everyone has deficiencies that need filling. Don’t be intimidated, you can do it.
Every obstacle is also an opportunity. No one was ever successful that didn’t overcome some adversity. The trick is to know your strengths, have a plan and persevere. Dig in and eventually you’ll find fertile ground.
You Can Do It, And I’m Here To Inspire You
I’ve had the privilege of knowing lots of photographers in my life. Some of them have a mature skill set, some of them are just starting out, but all of them had opportunity for success. I’ve seen too many promising photographers drop off the map, which is the genesis for this site. We will be spotlighting odd tog’s from everywhere who are succeeding with new ideas and unique business models with the goal of helping other photographers build exceptional careers. Hope you enjoy.
photo credit: Edu Lauton