The Advantage of Having Photography Side Projects
I recently read an interesting post on Medium about the advantages of side projects. In the case of the article I read, it was talking about web development, but it occurred to me that the same thing can be true of photography. Depending on your business model, a side project could actually be quite beneficial to you. For me, this blog, and my download store, as well as some stock sales, writing and direct image licensing are what I would consider my main (albeit somewhat complicated) business. However, I've been running a side project for a number of years now, and it's actually been very beneficial to my core photography business. That side project is my "Streets of Dublin" project.
Some of this post may seem a bit academic, but bear with me. “The Streets of Dublin" started out as a way to showcase my street photography of my home city of Dublin, but has since morphed into something else altogether. It's become something of a portrait of Dublin city, and it has attracted viewership from all over the world. The Facebook page and Twitter feed have thousands of followers and I get lots of feedback and discourse from it. It actually takes a good bit of effort, and so far it's been pretty good success, but it doesn't directly generate any revenue (yet), so then why do I continue with it, and why do I think it is important to my core business?
The Streets of Dublin project has had three very important outcomes for me. Firstly, it's been a great way to make me get out and practice both my city scape and street photography. It's encouraged me to push myself and my photography, as I try to improve what I shoot. Dublin is a relatively small city, but even so it's constantly changing. By continuing to shoot a similar subject, it really encourages you to see things differently, and to approach things differently. It provides a focus for those times when I don't particularly have focus, and it helps me to understand the importance of keeping shooting.
Secondly, it's been a good way of generating brand recognition. I know that's an easily bandied about term, but in this case, it's the best way to describe it. It's gotten my name out there as a photographer, and because the project has been very well received, it in turn has boosted my profile as an artist. I don't want to sound pretentious, or full of myself or anything. I am actually very critical of my own work, so I don't say that lightly, but the positivity that the project has generated, has both helped promote my main photography business, as well as help me deal with my own insecurities as a photographer.
Finally it has indirectly generated sales. I've had several high profile image sales and licenses because of my work on the Streets of Dublin project. If I hadn't been putting the effort into the project, I probably wouldn't have had those sales, and so it's had a financial effect on business as well as a supportive one.
Obviously, every project and every person is different. Personally I've discovered that having a side project, if you have the time, can really be beneficial. Of course, your ability to do something similar entirely depends on your workload. I have help with the Streets of Dublin too, which is probably the other reason it's been successful. I've seen some arguments from people on forums and in comments, that such things are a waste of valuable time, but in my experience it absolutely hasn't been. If nothing else, I hope that this article has been some food for thought!
If you haven't checked out my Streets of Dublin project already, please stop by. I've recently created a brand new website for it, so please subscribe to the RSS or add it to your bookmarks, and follow the project on Facebook and Twitter too.
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