As I go about my research and plans to formulate my photography career (which, by the way, I’m including y’all each step of the way because I don’t know if something like this has been done before and I think it would be cool to follow someone like myself on this journey), I’m reading a book by photog/writer Dane Sanders called, “Fast Track Photographer“. The book is full of self exploration exorcises to try and determine the type of photography business you should run. This is the hardest part about getting started when you decide to go professional. As Dane states, it’s not a good idea to be an all-around generic photographer in today’s market of saturated photographers because anybody (and seemingly everybody) can get a nice camera and take decent photos. The idea is to find a niche that captures your essence and creates value by doing something that is unique to you. You need to be something that nobody else can be and nobody can be you. It boils down to determining what it is that you are good at, what you love, what makes you you, and marrying those ideas into a brand that you can market yourself as.
Some of this I had already started doing before I even began reading this book. In this article I defined what I’m currently a fan of doing in photography. It is important because given my background as a professional musician who was signed to a recording contract and toured the world years ago, I do have a rather unique insight into the performance world. I also have an obsession with reaching the creative zone and would love to capture people in that zone. To me that would be the decisive moment I’m after in these types of shots. It’s not just music either – I want to capture the moment when people are acting on pure instinct. It could be anything from a guy working on a telephone pole to a dancer practicing alone in a studio. We all have things we do and we do them so well that we get lost in them. That’s the zone I’m interested in. Now that I’ve gotten off on a tangent, let’s get back to the point I wanted to make at the start of this.
One of the things that Mr. Sanders brushes on in his tips for branding your photography business is your name. He uses the beautiful Jasmine Star as an example. She uses her middle name instead of her last name because it just works perfectly for her. When I was deciding on what to call my website a few months ago, I made a very conscious decision to avoid my own last name because “Nienstedt” is just a pain in the ass to explain how to spell to people. I also toyed with the idea of using my own middle name which is Walter, named from my beloved grandfather who raised me. I would be Joseph Walter – photographer of [insert type of photography here]. The more I thought of how nice it would be to drop my Germanic last name, the more I realized that I shouldn’t do it.
Why continue to suffer with a complicated name to spell and pronounce when I have the opportunity to make my life easier? It’s who I am. I came into this world as Joseph Walter Nienstedt and I should be able to succeed regardless of my currently un-marketable name. In fact, in an effort to define my uniqueness, what better way to start than using my real name? So I would like to thank Dane Sanders for the suggestion, but I think his overall theme of defining yourself works in spite of doing what is conventionally accepted or expected by the marketeers of the world. I’d love to know what you think of my decision and the general practice of making your name easier for the general public to consume. Let it be known that I do like nicknames because I find those endearing since we rarely choose them ourselves, they are (hopefully) given to us by loved ones.