In the introduction to this series I touched on the importance of emotional connection and how it relates to sales and expanding your customer base. You learned, maybe for the first time, that you may be marketing the wrong work to the wrong people at the wrong time. Now that’s just wrong! I left off part one of this series promising to share with you some of the business ideas that have allowed me to be successful in marketing my work. We talked about why not, and before we get to where, we need to talk about how.
I want you to read the following sentence at least twice. The single most important factor to your success as a photographer both creatively and successfully is to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. While this seems like a no brainer, this is a challenge for many photographers because before we can become our greatest advocate, we need to stop being our own worst critic. If you regularly tell yourself and the people around you that you suck then guess what….. I don’t even need to tell you. Indulging in self doubt will place a strangle hold on your creativity and if left unaddressed feeds on itself and grows over time. No matter where you are in your journey as a photographer, make a conscious effort to fight self doubt with creativity. Allow yourself the freedom to be YOU. Capture the images that make you happy and be grateful for the moment instead of continually thinking about chasing that next shot.
This brings me to my second, but equally important idea that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side of the fence. While there certainly is value in evaluating others work, constantly comparing your work to the work of others can be extremely unhealthy and helps feed the self doubt that destroys our creativity. The fact is, in your own mind there will always be someone better than you. Even if this is true, there is no value at all in internalizing this self defeating idea. A much more productive practice is to compare your work to your own previous work. This self evaluation builds confidence and allows your creativity to continue to grow at a healthy pace. Continuing to challenge yourself is a crucial part of your journey, no matter where you hope to end up.
The third idea I would like to share with you is simple. Never let anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong. Photography is and always will be subjective. For every one person who tells you that you are doing it right, there are two willing to tell you that you are doing it wrong. I truly believe that our individual creative paths will always lead us to the same place. How long it takes you to get there is the question. If you listen to the noise, you might miss something important. If you are only interested in photographing moss and insects that is great! Never shot film before…who cares? If you want to capture 9 exposures of the same image and tone map the hell out of them that is your business. No one knows more about being you than YOU and anyone who tries to tell you that you aren’t doing it right is wrong in more ways than one.
The final thought I will leave you with today is to know where you’re going, even if you aren’t going anywhere. Having an idea of what you hope to achieve with your photography will save you time, money and stress. If you hope to sell stock photography one day, start building a rock solid file structure today. If you want to sell prints, learn about the printing process and start printing large images now. If you are looking for an image critique, burn off a 24” x 36” print and just look at it. It will provide a wealth of opportunities for growth. Building a rock solid foundation now will pay back dividends in future years. Plan for the future but don’t sacrifice what’s truly important. After all, they are just photographs. Stay tuned for part 3 of this series titled Don’t Ask Why…Ask When? Thanks for reading and leaving your comments below. Please consider sharing this blog with those you feel may benefit from it.