1. Surround yourself with successful, motivated, and positive people. Create your dream team!
This alone will make a huge impact in your career and business. Photography is a challenging field to break into with a lot of trial and error involved so you will need these folks around to boost your confidence when you are tired or frustrated. A lot of people give up just before their career is on the verge of taking off, so these positive influences will help you push on. Make it your goal to create your dream team—these are the people that inspire you creatively and give you a creative high when you’re around them.
2. Let your style unfold organically.
Many photographers are in search of their unique style when they first start out, but the truth is you won’t know your style in the beginning. You really just have to go out and shoot, shoot, shoot a ton of images, and after a couple years you’ll start to see similarities in your images emerging. These become your style and show up organically. So instead of trying to shoot a certain style, just shoot what you love, give it time, and let it happen naturally.
3. Shoot what you LOVE and only show that type of work.
Many new photographers become pigeonholed into shooting a particular niche because it pays the bills. Paying the bills is of course important, but there is a way to focus on where you want to be while still shooting jobs that pay. You do this by only showing and posting the kind of work that you are passionate about in your portfolio and website while you’re still shooting the paid gigs. This personal work will begin to attract those type of clients and dream jobs to you. It may take a year or two to begin, but eventually you’ll get to a point where people will be hiring you to shoot exactly the kind of work that you love.
4. Choose the type of lighting that best fits your vision for your imagery.
When I was first starting, lighting was very new and I had trouble deciding the right and wrong way to do it. But the truth is, it all depends on your vision. So try to learn a bunch of great lighting techniques and then when you go into a shoot, choose the lighting that best fits your vision for your images. Is it a lighthearted, happy theme? Then you might go with natural bright light. Or if you’re going for more of a moody look, you might opt for Rembrandt lighting. The more techniques you learn, the more options you have when you go into a job.
5. Build your brand.
Your brand is not only made up of your images, it’s really an outward extension of who you are. It consists of your portfolio, website, logo, fonts, mood, environment on set, studio decor, editing style, and even in the way you communicate through emails and phone calls. Everything that your client sees is a reflection of you and your brand, so be mindful of all of those aspects and make sure they are all put together and cohesive.
6. Experiment all the time.
During every shoot I do, I am always learning. I am pretty sure that is why photography always feels new and fresh to me because I am soaking up information like a sponge. On each shoot, I always try to capture exactly what the client is looking for and then I try something different at the end...something experimental and along the lines of my own vision. A funny thing happens when you start doing this: a lot of clients will actually end up choosing those images because you gave them what they didn’t know they were looking for—your edge.
7. Network like crazy.
Photography is all about relationships. People enjoy and hire people that they know and like working with. You must get out there and meet people in person for them to remember you and think about hiring you for upcoming jobs.
8. Create the experience.
People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Carl W. Buechner. This one is huge. Creating the experience includes how you talk to clients and handle their direction, how you connect with subjects on set, the type of music playing when they enter your studio, the overall energy of your team, and even the basic mundane tasks such as emailing and pre-production. It’s all in the details. The great experience you create is what keeps clients coming back.
9. Keep it simple.
You can create amazing images with even the simplest of equipment! When I started I had only one camera, the Nikon D70s and a 50mm lens, and as my business has grown, I have invested in more gear. I always made it a point to save up until I could afford the quality brands—from my Nikon cameras to G-Technology hard-drives to my Lexar memory cards, because they’re reliable, fast, and give me peace of mind when I’m shooting.
10. Go for it!!!
I heard this quote recently that is so true, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ~Earl Nightingale Life is so fleeting and so short. Take time to enjoy each moment as it comes, live in the present, and create the life you dream of living. Enjoy the adventure...a career in photography is definitely that!