Intro by Skip Cohen

It’s another hit “out of the park,” by Bev Walden…and for those of you who sometimes get hung up on biblical references, just trust me and read her entire post.

Years ago, Joe Buissink and I wrote a book together, Wedding Photography from the Heart. Most of the book shared so many great lessons Joe learned over the years. Joe is all about relationship building, but in line with Bev’s points today, I was reminded of something he did for every client.

When they came to his studio for a review of their images, he’d always choose one photograph printed relatively large and framed on the wall of his studio/office. He’d eventually give them the print as a gift. And the print was signed because Joe wanted his clients to realize he was an artist, not just their photographer.

If you’re still thinking of yourself as just a photographer, then it’s time to raise the bar. Your self-perception drives your business and your growth as an artist. And combined with relationship building with your target audience, you can become unstoppable!


Our journey in understanding this principle started in our previous studio more than 20 years ago after I read the book, “The E-Myth-Revisited” by Michael Gerber. The statement that caught my eye was that whatever you perceive yourself to be, others will perceive you as well.

Perception is more important than reality for it will become your reality. We’ve all heard the saying, “To be successful, you must look successful.” It is absolutely true!

Even in the biblical account of the 12 spies (Numbers 13:32-33) that went into the promised land (which was then occupied by giants), we see this principle at work. “So they (the spies) gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim);  and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Wow, every time I read that I am amazed that we do have the power to change other’s perceptions by changing how we perceive ourselves! By the way, they lost the promised land because of their perception of themselves as grasshoppers in other’s eyes! They just gave up!

We have to see ourselves as successful to attract others (ie: clients) that are successful.

Here’s what we noticed that changed when we changed our self-perception and our clientele also changed from those looking for a deal to those looking for art!

We became artists, not just another picture-taking place. 

We changed our vocabulary, watching every word we said to make sure it sounded successful and reflected the artists that we were becoming. Pictures became portraits or images or pieces of art and we still use those terms today.

We started working on our studio to make it look like a working art gallery instead of a typical photography studio by removing clutter, small images, proof portfolios, and signage. We even made the hard decision to hang just a few larger images in magnificent frames rather than a bunch of smaller wall images. 

As we evolved from a very formal look in the studio in our old location, we landed on a casual, comfortable feel (like a coffee shop). Yet, some principles still held such as eliminating clutter, hanging only prime pieces to show what we wanted to sell and keeping our three distinct styles separated into three areas.

Today, Walden’s Photography has a grand presence in the community and our clients are wowed as they walk through the door. So, back up, take a look at your facility and see what you can do to improve.

As you perceive yourself to be, so you will become!

And, a final word…fake it ’til you make it!