Intro by Skip Cohen With Part I, between my thoughts…
I shared the ideas below on my own blog recently and got a lot of good comments. It’s hard to stay focused on our careers when lately we hit so many stumbling blocks. I’m hoping you find some helpful ideas to get back on track and stop looking at the twists and turns in the “road” as the end of the line.
A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.
With all the challenges in our lives these days, it’s often tough to stay positive. From the pandemic to politics, there seems to be something new every day, adding to the struggle to stay focused and on track. Even the most confident of us feel the pressure to second guess everything, from maintaining our health to rebuilding business. The result is most often a little damage to our self-confidence.
This is going to seem simplistic, but maybe it’s time we developed a check-off list of things to do to help stay focused. You know how to focus your camera, but do you know how to hold the focus on the passion for your career?
- Find yourself a supportive Facebook forum. Most of us have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but with the pandemic and the isolation of self-quarantine, it’s become one of the best sources to stay in touch with other artists and friends. There are so many groups within photography, and while now and then you’ll run across a troll who doesn’t like the images you share, just remember, “Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!”
- Take advantage of online education. There’s so much out there to help you hold focus! From programs like ClickCon to Out of Chicago to KelbyMedia and these are just the tip of the iceberg! Online education is one of your greatest tools for growing your skillset.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Lately, they’re not always easy to find, but one of the great things about this industry is how we all watch each other’s backs. Sooner or later, the “negators” in your life will hopefully come around, but for now, those people who are throwing up the roadblocks need to be kept on the sidelines. The only thing they’re contributing to your life is stress.
- Stop watching the news! I’m not suggesting you put your head in the sand, but limit your intake of information from the media. Sheila and I watch the news a couple of times a week, and we fast forward through anything to do with politics – because nobody tells the truth anyway! Sorry, but it’s become harder and harder to know what to believe. So, we’ve found a couple of sources we trust to read.
- Listen to your heart. It sounds hokey, but you know what you feel inside. You know what your gut instinct is saying about your passion for being a photographer. The pandemic has changed a lot of things, but people’s need to capture memories is still out there and might even be stronger than ever.
- Stay in touch with your clients! Just because you’re hunkered down for health reasons, doesn’t mean your business and career goals have to be on the backburner. Pick up the phone and call a couple of past clients every day. You don’t need to be selling anything, just checking to see how they’re doing.
- Look at old images. Go back and look at your very first images. It might have been a party you photographed, a landscape while on vacation, or maybe just a few shots of your kids. Now compare them to where you are today. Most of you will see growth in the way you compose and expose today. As you get more experienced, there should be noticeable changes in lighting, composition, depth of field, and creativity.
- What are you missing in your skillset? Take advantage of the downtime and expand your skills. Remember, growth only occurs outside your comfort zone.
- Roberto Valenzuela suggested a terrific tool for practicing the craft on a GoingPro podcast a long time ago. He suggested you go back to the last wedding you photographed and look at all the bad images. “Look for what you missed and learn to understand why each image wasn’t good!”
- Enter some images in print competition. This is a personal favorite. Whether you enter prints or not, at least follow the judging whether it’s online or live at the next convention. Listen to what the judges are saying about each photograph. Use their suggestions as guidance for your own work.
- Join your local chapter or guild of professional photographers. Sooner or later, everyone shares the same frustrations. A local chapter of other photographers becomes a support group and an essential part of your network. There’s a lot of comfort in knowing your peers share some of the same concerns and frustrations.
- Don’t respond to trolls! When you step out into the public forums and get shot at by a troll, don’t let yourself get caught up in the battle. Don’t respond. Your silence is far more effective at driving them, mad!
This is only a partial list, and I know there are a lot more things you can do that I haven’t included here. So, feel free to let me know what I’ve missed. Most important of all, if you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated, there are a lot of us willing to help.
Don’t get sidetracked by people who are not on track!
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