The Next Big Trend: Reality Photography

What did you watch on television when you were little? Chances are it was comedy shows, family sitcoms, maybe a drama or two. What they all had in common was they were thought out, written, rehearsed, and filmed for television.

You can’t say that any more. What are you watching today? American Idol? Voices? The Bachelor? Biggest Loser? Sure they are planned and thought out – you can never throw anything together without a lot of thought first. But their focus is entirely different. Instead of paying big celebrity stars to act in the show, they bring in contestants from every day life and make them compete for a shot at success. Whether it be a singing contract, marriage or a million dollars in your pocket, the goal is to bring celebrity status to normal, every day common people.

And of course people love it. Everyone wants to be famous. Everyone wants to be a star. And as the character Rachel from the television show Glee stated, “Nowadays being anonymous is worse than being poor.”

Once upon a time children aspired to be teachers, doctors and police officers. Now they want to be celebrities, rock stars and sports stars.

We share everything about our daily lives not only with family and friends, but with anyone in the world who is willing to listen. We blog. We Tweet. We Facebook. We paste our photographs everywhere. We want and love the attention.

Yes, we love taking our own photos with our mobile devices. Yet we also know this is still just documentary photography. We document our daily lives, snapping images of the flowers we see on our morning walks, the sandwich we eat at lunch, and the friendly gatherings we have at a sports event on Friday night. Everyone has their arms straight out, phone in hand, heads together, smiling as they push the button. Then with a click, we share our arm-length photographs for all the world to see.

But if you want someone to really smile and pull out their credit cards, reality photography is where its at.

You can head into any big box discount store, stand on an X and say “cheese” to a minimum-wage employee. Buy a few sheets and head out the door.

But the reality photographer of today understands people want more.

Celebrities “hate” paparazzi photographers. Yet that’s a sign that they’ve “made it”. The average person knows this. And many would give anything to experience that feeling for a day. They would hire their own paparazzi photographer to follow them around for a day. Or how about covering their event like they’re a star? Yep, there’s a market for it. Just Google it.

If you went back 20 years, the average business person didn’t need a photograph to advance in their career. Not any more. If you’ve ever seen a realtor with a self-taken portrait on their business cards, you realize they aren’t cut out for the business world. The true professional now has specialized professional portrait session in which they have a variety of images taken to use in many situations. From building their websites to sharing their images on brochures and business cards, you can’t look “average” to become a great business person.

If you have kids, you know they expect mini model portfolios in everything they do. Seniors are using their images for yearbooks – and to advance their modeling careers. Kids have their sports images in everything from a frame on the mantle, to trading cards with friends, to images for portfolios to send off to the college recruiters. Snapshots don’t work. The more professional they are, the more aspiring they will be to your kids. And maybe you will get that scholarship after all.

And what about weddings? Weddings used to be a book of portraits to help you remember your special day, along with a few candids to help remember the details. Now the bride and groom go all out for the “experience”. Trash The Dress sessions are hotter than ever. Boudoir? You bet. Brides-to-be love using those as gifts for their new husbands. They are looking for the photographer that goes beyond ordinary and gives them the experience of a lifetime.

Is there something to reality photography? Yep, it’s the future.

But that doesn’t mean you can promote it like yesteryear’s boring old photography. It has to be WOW. It has to make the client go from ordinary to extraordinary.

  • Your ideas have to be different.
  • Your approach has to be different.
  • Your marketing has to be different.
  • Your photography has to be different.

And then hang on for the ride. The future of photography … reality photography … will take you for a ride.

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