Photographers Refocus on New Ventures has an interesting entry on innovative photographers. Over the past decade, many photographers have witnessed a blurring of the line between amateur and professional. A digital SLR camera and some editing software are often all people need to break into the photography business. Some professional photographers saw the changes coming early on and successfully capitalized on them by refocusing their talents.

Maybe you yourself have your own project idea, but you hesitate? Hopefully these success stories inspire to pull your idea through.

Here are three former professional photographers who have built successful ventures:

  • The Lens Maker: To save money, Craig Strong had been making his own lenses and camera gadgets and soon realized other people were interested in his designs. In 2003, he co-founded Lensbaby, a Portland based website where both amateur and professional photographers could buy his lenses. “We’re most known for (lenses that provide) a sweet spot of focus, which is one area of sharp focus and a gradually increasing blur,” says the 45-year-old entrepreneur. Nearly a decade later, Lensbaby has 35 employees and offers more than 20 lenses.
  • The Storage Manager: For photographers, figuring out where to safely store and share thousands of high-res images is often a challenge because of the large files. That’s what inspired Grover Sanschagrin, a 46-year-old former newspaper photographer, to create PhotoShelter, which lets professionals store their images while communicating with potential clients about their work. “It started with me wanting to help out my friends,” he says. “I saw there was more opportunity in technology than actually covering the news.” Sensing more growth in digital photography and fewer traditional newspaper photographer opportunities, Sanschagrin decided to switch gears. “I saw the writing on the wall,” he says. Since its launch in 2005, the New York-based startup has grown to include more than 70,000 accounts and 29 employees.
  • The Business Advisor: After starting a photography studio in Springfield, Ill., Sarah Petty, 44, began doing speaking engagements about the business and marketing side of her company. With her advice increasingly in demand, she decided to create a new business, Petty’s Joy of Marketing, which helps both amateur and professional photographers learn much needed business skills. The company sells various monthly programs, including Jumpstart Your Brand in 21 Days for photographers, an online course for $399. In 2012, Joy of Marketing doubled its sales, which are approaching $2 million a year.

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