It’s not an easy thing to stick your neck out and just ask for money; it certainly isn’t for me anyway. I’m still coming to terms with it, and am still a bit shy about ‘blowing my own trumpet’ on the Patreon platform.
However, having contributing towards crowdfunding for a number of other people’s projects and seeing the benefit to them, I decided to dip my toe in the water. Having monitored various platforms for a while Patreon seemed the best fit for me (the lone starving artist type) and for what I do.
I’m not a commercial photographer. Photographing weddings, scantily clad ladies, or children and animals has never appealed to me. although I have done the odd editorial commission over the years. At the risk of sounding somewhat pretentious, I tend to describe myself as an artist who just uses a camera. Whilst that this sort of work does appeal to some and I do sell the odd print of my work, for the most part my personal work is a cost far more than it is an income.
In the Internet age few people think of adorning their walls or their bookshelves with work created by the likes of me.
What are we photographers and our work really worth? Not much in the eyes of many, after all, once you have a digital camera it doesn’t really cost anything to do photography does it?
I beg to differ…
My studio is inhabited by at least two full kits of equipment (plus necessary computers and software), gathered over years at enormous cost (i.e. a lot more than a damned iPhone).
- I spent five years studying the subject at college and university (i.e. five years of ‘lost earnings’)
- I dread to think how much I’ve spent on petrol and other travel expenses over the years, and again spending time I could have used to be making money doing other more ‘sensible’ things.
Of course in spite of what is probably tens if not hundreds of thousands of euro or pounds, and despite the hundreds if not thousands of hours too, I really do what I do for the love for it. I’d have to because it’s far from profitable. Few artists from any discipline operate at a profit.
All that being said, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn compliments and appreciation into hard cash? That’s where Patreon comes in. It gives family, friends and dare I be so presumptuous as to use the word ‘fans’ an opportunity to contribute to the work without having to fork out big money. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee each month enough people could help me stop doing the other things I do to fund my photography and allow me more time to be doing what I love.
Additionally it offers me an alternative way to reach an audience that I know cares enough to contribute to my work in some small way, and to share what I do with them. Using the rewards in the right way is a great way to get work seen, and show thanks to supporters in the form of amongst other things files and prints.
Hopefully I can build on my patrons over time, and as well as the promised rewards I intend to….
- be transparent about what patron contributions have done to help my work
- and over-deliver through surprise freebies on the promised rewards
I’ve harped on about money quite a bit here, but aside from that what really counts is the appreciation and trust in me becoming a Patron demonstrates.
I’m enormously grateful to those who have supported me already and to those who will come in future. Each time a patron signs up the warm and fluffy feeling far outweighs mere shekels.
So, if you think you might like to take a look at my Patreon page and maybe, just maybe, be willing to share some small change with a ‘starving artist’ do please click here!