Without tooting my horn too much, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the top 10 most influential photography bloggers on planet Earth. How did I get so famous, is being famous desirable and how can you become “internet famous” in the realm of photography?
Why be famous?
There are many benefits of being famous, especially in terms of the internet, photography, business, etc:
- Ability to make a living doing what you love.
- To gain financial security to buy your own freedom, and the freedom of your family.
- To enjoy good enough profits, that you don’t stress whether you can pay the bills at the end of every month.
- To have cash in the bank in case of financial or medical emergencies.
- Having a large platform to share social good, to promote good cultural values, and to influence the photography world.
When I started photography I just wanted 100 favorites on Flickr. That soon turned into wanting 200 favorites, 500 favorites, and last time I checked I got (at my apex) 3,000 likes on Instagram before I deleted it.
I wanted to be famous because I was insecure about my photography. I wanted others to bolster my self esteem as a photographer by telling me,
Oh Eric, you’re such a good photographer!
In reality, with the more likes, social media fame, etc– the more insecure I got. The more envious and jealous I got of my peers with more likes, followers, and more influence than me.
Now, I currently own the internet throne for street photography. How does it feel?
The view from the top
To be honest, it feels pretty good.
I don’t have to prove nothing. I shoot with a $600 Ricoh GR II camera, and don’t need to extend my penis size by shooting with a $7,000 digital Leica and $5,000 Leica lens.
I enjoy enough profits to give out more free information, on street photography, personal photography, and also photography entrepreneurship — building my own competitors, to help other photography entrepreneurs.
I live without fear of going broke. I did the math, and at the profit and expense ratio, I will never go broke. As I get richer, I continually lower my living expenses.
I’m currently climbing above $200,000 USD a year with Cindy, yet I no longer eat breakfast or lunch– only dinner. I prefer to stay in $20 hotels, eat hamburgers (no bun, preferably in and out), eggs, and drink espressos (no milk). I am currently doing all my blogging on an iPad. All I need is eggs, coffee, and wifi to make a living.
Being famous is good for my self-ego. I know I have a lot of influential folks, rich folks, and great designers following me, and who like me. I don’t need to impress nobody anymore at stuffy photography parties, or gallery shows. I often don’t go to gallery or photography shows anymore– too much shmoozing, and it is generally boring to me. I’d rather sleep early, read some poetry in the evenings and wake up early at 5:30am to think, reflect, and write.
Low expenses is freedom.
I don’t own a car, nor do I desire one. Uber everywhere.
I don’t need new clothes. All black everything.
I prefer not owning a phone. No more $800 smartphones.
I can rather pour all my profits to helping my sister, my mom, and other folks I know who could use some financial help.
So the benefit of being famous:
More fame, more income, more profits, and more helping others.
Does fame corrupt?
For me, I don’t think it did. It just exaggerated what I already had before.
If anything, being more famous and more rich has helped me be more generous and selfless.
How I got famous
I have a lot of thanks to others for helping me build my fame:
- Kai, Alamby, Lok, Richard, and Digital Rev for making me famous on YouTube, now with the Leica m6 vs m2 having close to half a million views.
- JJ and Christian from Leica (as well as many others) for helping promote me when I was starting off in photography blogging in 2011
- Fujifilm: Helping give me free gear (Fujifilm camera reviews giving me more traffic and eyeballs to my blog and YouTube), Keitaro-San, and many other reps I don’t know how to spell their names in Japanese.
- Mohammad, Hala, and all of GPP DUBAI crew for helping promote me, bringing me to GPP, helping me meet all these other influential photographers and also connecting me to Fujifilm.
- Hundreds of other photographers I can’t mention now.
Essentially, I am standing on the shoulders of giants. They pushed me forward.
So I’m grateful of the people who helped me get to where I am.
But what helped connect me to these influential folks in the first place?
Following my own heart, of publish a lot of high-quality open source information. Being consistent over 6 years, and being generous. Hustling 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The more I hustled, the luckier I got. And the more contacts I built.
Practical advice on how to build a following
Okay, you’re probably not going to be famous. My life trajectory ain’t a formula. It won’t work for you. But here are some ideas I have to encourage you:
- Make a YouTube channel: Free, easy to do. Just use your phone to record videos, or use iMovie and your laptop webcam. Be honest raw, and fun. I love watching the “angry photographer” on YouTube, and Kaiman Wong. Essentially, be useful and don’t be boring. Be opinionated. Curse if you curse in real life.
- Make your own blog: 1and1.com and WordPress.org. Blog everyday, and I can guarantee you will have an audience after 365 blog posts in one year. Blog about what you’re curious about in photography, and don’t aim for perfection. Write photography tip articles, do guest blog posts on other popular photography sites, and be useful and real. Don’t censor yourself.
- Be useful: write information and create resources that are useful. The more useful you are, the more honest you are, the more people are going to flock to you. Write content and information you would like to consume yourself. For example, I like list articles. So I write those, because it is easier for me to read. I like cursing in writing, and like it when others do it. So I follow my own style, and ignore other bloggers.
Ultimately, fame is overrated. As long as you like your own photos, you can be happy in your photography.
But being famous helps if you plan on making a living, or side income from photography.