While I know there is plenty of education out there for photographers to learn to be better shooters, like most artists so many of us fall short when it comes to business. After all, we got into this industry because we love to create, and I’m dedicating 2016 to helping you guys do one thing: Make more money.
A good place to start would be for me to list some things that I’ve witnessed successful wedding and portrait photographers do consistently. Here are six critical habits or ways of being that I’ve observed them do over the past year.
- PRACTICE PATIENCE At a crowded supermarket recently, I made eye contact with an elderly man as we patiently waited for some rude shoppers to almost knock us over. I smiled at him and he said to me, “You gotta be patient or you wind up a patient!” Brilliant! His advice is so poignant for our community. Whether you’re new to the industry or a dinosaur like me, this capacity for waiting is one that’s consistent among many of those I’ve come to admire.
- LISTEN AND TAKE ADVICE We do a lot of jabbering about taking criticism, but from where I stand there are very few who have the ability to listen, swallow their ego and take it to heart. One person I find to be doing this remarkably well is Susan Stripling. She enters her Print Comp images with the precision of an archer, but if she doesn’t score well, she uses that energy to help explain the process to others.
- RADIATE CONFIDENCE While I do believe this is an innate skill, I also think it can be an acquired one. Confidence can be a tricky thing, even with those born with it. I’ve seen many talented individuals “turn off” others, but at the same time you’ll always be judged on confidence when someone is making a decision to hire you.
- FOCUS Yes, we are easily distracted. Thank you, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, etc. But take a look at Jeremy Cowart. This guy nails it when it comes to engaging with others on social media. At the same time, he’s always chasing a new project, creating killer art, and he somehow balances that with his family life and his philanthropy.
- DO SOMETHING OTHERS WANT We’re taught to forge our own path, but if we create something no one wants then it’s hard to be successful. (Of course, now we’re getting into the brackish waters of defining success. Let’s save that for another time.) This is a really tricky one, and is unfortunately why imitation exists. Having the ability to create something new that people want again and again is a winning combination. Parker Pfister is one of those guys who continually pushes the envelope and creates, leaving us wanting more!
- KNOW HOW TO SAY THANK YOU This last one may seem silly, but the art of thanking others is not easy! Doing it in a way that’s authentic is hard, but it is something that I will be working hard on this year. Hey, we are all busy people, but we don’t spend nearly enough time saying thanks to our friends, family and colleagues. I’m working on some new note cards this year and my goal is to write at least one personal note a week. Not too lofty a goal, right? What will you work on this year? Let’s talk about it. I want to hear from you!