A few years ago, frustrated with the economy and spending a lot of time talking to photographers who were finding new ways to “fight the battle”, I started my own campaign: “Just because the media says it’s going to be a bad year, doesn’t mean it has to be!”
Well, the economy is better today, but so many of you are bogged down in the battles of competition, social media, marketing and technology. I’m not minimizing the challenges of being in business in 2018, but I’ve learned a lot from so many great photographers in our industry.
It all starts with your attitude. Stay away from self-fulfilling prophecies. There’s that old statement – If you define a situation as hopeless, then it will be! You’ve got to stay focused on the importance of your contribution as a professional photographer.
Diversity in your skill set: Okay, you’re a commercial photographer and you really hate shooting weddings but do you at least know how to do it right if a client asks? Or, you’re a wedding photographer and your brides from the last few years are all starting families – they loved your work the first time around. So, are you going to contact them and do the first portrait of the new baby or sit back and give the work to another photographer? And if you hate the idea of photographing outside your core business, then do you have a relationship with some other artists for a referral?
Listen to your vendors! This one is critical because every photographer we consider iconic is working closely with several vendors. Every one of the SCU partners has new products to show or services to help you build a stronger business. The vendors are all putting their efforts into finding new tools for their clients to help find new business. They’re investing time and money into ways to help you! Is it philanthropic? Of course not – but they know if they can help you build your business you’re going to need their products and services and everybody wins.
Utilize your network! Every strong photographer I talk to is involved in something outside their direct business. They’re blogging, guest blogging, shooting with other photographers, attending other workshops, reading every newsletter and article they can find and they’re never slowing down. They’re involved in many of the online forums because they believe in working together to find more solutions.
When I ask anybody the question, “How’s business this year?” Those who say they’re holding their own always finish with the same comment, “But I’ve never worked so hard in my life!” Nobody said it was easy, but nobody is afraid of hard work either.
I’ve been accused a lot of being overly optimistic. People have told me I’m too much of a cheerleader. But here’s the view I get to see, which you don’t – I’m talking to hundreds of photographers every week. I have the advantage of a front row seat looking at the big picture.
If necessity is the mother of invention then all of our survival is based on the necessity to continue to be part of the industry we love so much and find new ways to make it stronger.
Two great quotes I’ve used more than once in the past, both from Zig Ziglar that bring it all together:
You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.
It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.