When there’s something I care deeply about, I talk a lot about it. On Twitter for example, I talk a lot about professionalism and photography. I am curt with questions like “What camera did you use? What lens? What lighting?” As if it is the equipment that defines the quality of work produced.
I also worry that a lot of aspiring photographers look at people like me and think, “What a glamorous life! So much money! I must quit whatever it is I’m doing and buy a camera and then I will have arrived.”
I am a supporter of the current reality of, “Everyone with a camera is a photographer.” I think it raises the bar for everyone and that is great for my profession. It is great for me because I move, I am on my toes, I am continually pushing myself, and I am producing work that was better than my last assignment.
The business aspect of being a professional photographer is not very well understood, especially by aspirants. When I was an aspirant, I had no clue either. I didn’t even know what questions to ask.
A few nights ago, @5mPortrait said, “Some business tips…” and my replies were as follows:
1. Balance between the jobs that fuel your drinking habit & the jobs that fuel your soul.
2. Always get paid for what you do unless it’s something you really want to do & would give your left arm to do.
3. Always sign a contract. Even for free work. Always get a 100% advance. Business, professionalism. Always.
4. Smile and be nice to people. Show up. Do the hard work that no one else is willing to or has even thought of.
5. Meet people, make friends, ask questions, ask for work. Paid work.
6. Do good work. Each assignment you deliver should be better than your previous one. Raise the bar for yourself.
7. Don’t listen to those who tell you it’s tough out there. It is tough but it can be done.
8. Really, truly, WANT it from the bottom of your heart & put all of your soul into it.
9. You will have bad days / assignments – build a circle of advisors & friends who “get” what you do & support you.
10. Shoot a LOT. Even where there is no client / paid work, make your own and shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot.
There’s no secret sauce really. Just consistently show up, deliver, be professional & have self-esteem.
There’s no step-by-step guide on who to get in touch with, how to approach them – who those people are etc. Every person you meet is a potential client or knows someone who can be a potential client. Blog about your work, don’t be shy to talk about your work, don’t cringe when someone pays you a compliment, don’t shy away from the media, don’t shy away from fame. What you bring to your business, only you can bring. Chin up and shoot shoot shoot!
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