« on: October 02, 2014, 10:06:17 AM »
Interesting topic - there are a lot of questions, when you start thinking about it. Gear, processing, sales, when will video displace stills,...
How does one distinguish oneself?
As far as the photo is concerned, I think it comes down to the right gear, used in the right way, with the right composition, and with that little added "something" that you only get by being in the right place at the right time. For instance, I think jrista posted a photo of a couple of doves looking like they were cuddling with their eyes closed. That's the "something".
Camera: The right gear is important but only in so far as you need to have the right resolution, DR, and lack of noise to be able to print your photos at the desired size. For the most part, I'd say 16 x 20 is about the biggest.
Lens: I think the older set of big whites (like my 500 f4 IS USM) is as good as it needs to be. I also [this will raise some hackles] think the old 100-400 was too soft. The new set of supertele primes are as good as lenses need to get and 600 is probably long enough.
Composition: There is something to the "what's left" question. I saw a photo in one of the recent threads that shows that even Tom Manglesen's classic salmon jumping into the bear's mouth has been duplicated (probably many more times than I know). However, composition has to be the key. Photos of a critter standing in a field aren't going to cut it, unless there's a lot more to it - color of the sky, background , etc.
Along with composition is something I'm a believer in - luck! There's a lot to being in the right place at the right time.
So, once you have the right photo, how do you sell it? The bigger question that I can't answer is how do you distinguish yourself from all the other photographers. I've got no opinion and no experience on that one. Not only is the heap of data increasing, as you've mentioned, the number of people taking photos is increasing, too. Fifteen or twenty years ago there weren't nearly as many people with cameras in the national parks (maybe not as many people, period). These days, "Everybody is a wildlife photographer". I wish I had a photo of the time I was in Yellowstone. A fox family had denned near the road and the Rangers had a series of poles set out 25 yds from the den. There was a solid line of 20 or 30 photographers along the poles, all with long lenses (mostly big whites), from countries all around the world.
And part of that "everybody is a wildlife photographer" is (for me at least ) the thought that "I could do that". To be honest, I wouldn't buy someone else's wildlife photo.
Finally, I'm not taking wildlife photos to get rich -actually, it kind of goes the other way :-)
My wife (I'm fortunate in having a wife who enjoys wildlife, too) and I have learned a lot about animal behavior over the years by watching. Selling photos would be nice (but I really haven't pushed myself on that yet) but watching the critters speaks to something in the human psyche, I think. Also, having good photos to give to friends and family is nice.