Practice Patience - Results That Reap The Reward

Practice Patience - Results That Reap The Reward

Photographers and artists alike are extremely passionate people. With strict deadlines and hectic schedules, we all have the tendency to jump the gun and act or open our mouth before taking a step back from the situation. There is one word which you will be hearing a lot throughout this article. It is a trait at the core of what we do and it’s very much a necessary virtue: patience.

The dictionary defines patience as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting upset. Take that definition and now apply it to your method of photography. It all should become a bit clearer now. Even though you may not realize it, patience plays an essential role in not only capturing a great image, but also following through. Furthermore, your attitude and character on set can completely control the morale of the shoot. From the initial client contact, to the digital darkroom then to Instagram or Facebook, here is groundwork that I recommend you follow.

Patience With Your Patron

The client is always right… right? We've all been in situations where we may be pushed to do something outside of our comfort zone or shoot in a way that just isn’t your style. Our first instinct might be to fight back and push the client for what we want. But, in many cases this issue could be solved by a simple explanation of how and why. Most likely, the client doesn't understand lighting or camera jargon, so speak with them in layman's terms and explain why it should be shot in a specific way. Once everything is understood and everyone is on the same page, the imagery should be something both parties are happy with.

Practice Patience - Results That Reap Reward

Patience With Your Party

Whether you’re on an editorial or commercial shoot, you’re likely to have a team of people working alongside you, which may include hair, makeup, styling, creative direction, assisting etc. When you get a bunch of passionate people in one room, there is bound to be a difference of opinion. It’s always important to have everything lined up and the concept locked in before the day of the shoot; but, if your hair and makeup team is running behind or your creative director decides to throw a curve ball, just be patient. Work through problems and overcome the speed bump. It’s never fun or easy working with a stressed out photographer. I've been there.

Patience With People

Constant positive reinforcement is everything to a model or subject. It’s important to reassure the model that he or she is “making moves”, because once the confidence is lost, it’s an uphill battle for fierce expressions and unique poses. Having said that, if you’re working with an inexperienced model, remember to be easy-going and explain what you’re seeing through the lens. They aren’t looking at a mirror, so it’s critical that you always communicate. There is nothing worse than a frustrated photographer who isn't getting the shot and placing the blame on the model.

Practice Patience - Results That Reap Reward

Patience With The Provisions

Gear and technicalities can become disheartening really quick. Sometimes you just can’t find the sweet spot in lighting or perhaps you simply get confused. Beauty dish? Yes. Kicker? No. 85mm Lens? Yes. It’s crucial to pre-light and setup before your subject steps in front of your lens, but it’s also necessary to make sure the light and exposure are right. Take your time and find the sweet spot... your client, reputation and portfolio depend on it. Don’t settle for less, even if you’re on a timeline. Get it right in camera - you’ll save time in post. When you reach a threshold and become frustrated, break it back to the basics and start small, then build.

Patience With Processing

We’ve all been there; fresh off a photoshoot, staring at the back of the camera eagerly awaiting the moment we can start playing in Photoshop. In the past, I’ve been so excited; I’ve actually edited and completed images during the photoshoot. But, when we hit that “Save” button for the first time, is the image truly complete? Never. Give every image some breathing room. Once you make an edit, save it, close it and don’t bring it up for a few hours, or even the next day. I can almost guarantee you’ll find an error or an addition that can make it better. Even if you’re on a tight deadline, make the time and allot for that processing breathing room. It’s a vital sequence in my photography and I recommend you implement it in yours.

Practice Patience - Results That Reap Reward

Patience With Publishing

With editing comes that moment of succession when you’re able to publish your images in print or online. For most of us, pushing our precious images to social media like Facebook, 500px, Flickr or Tumblr is a  positive reinforcer like none other. There is that tinge of anxiety right before you hit the "Post" button. 200 Likes and 20 comments… Addicting? Absolutely. But with that comes the right and wrong times to do it. This is where patience becomes very important, and timing is everything. I see many photographers post at random times and then complain that their engagement is low or they are receiving zero feedback. Well, the public at large is not waiting for you to post an image, so it’s your responsibility to bring your work to them on a silver platter. If you finish up with an image at 1am, don’t post it. Wait until the next evening during higher engagement times. If you finish up an edit at 12pm, don’t post it. Wait until that evening.

From experience, here are some target post times:

  • Monday – Thursday (EST): 11:00am | 3:00pm | 10:00pm - 11:00pm
  • Sunday (EST): 10:00pm - 11:00pm

Avoid Friday and Saturday, which is the lowest for social engagement.

Additional note: When you tag someone in your photo, it will pop up in all your “friends of friends” news feed, so be patient with tags. If you have a small community of friends, then wait to tag your team members over a period of time so your image will reach a larger audience rather than all at once. Yes, it requires some commitment, but it can be well worth the engagement.

Patience With You

I for one can get so wrapped up in the heat of the moment and lose the true nature of why I do this: it is a pure, creative, fun and exploratory outlet, with perks. Give yourself time to improve and space to learn. Set yourself up for failure, and when you do fail (which you will), get back up on your feet and learn from it. You may constantly feel inadequate or not up to par with your peers, but instead of punishing yourself, set a path, set a goal, and follow through. When you pick up a camera, the options are endless. It’s up to you to decide where to take it.

Practice Patience - Results That Reap Reward Practice Patience - Results That Reap Reward


I always say that I've spent half my career… just waiting. Whether albeit makeup on a model or a check from a client or just waiting to post an image to Facebook. It’s a big waiting game and patience rests at the foundation of what I do. We all don’t have the luxury of having this prestigious virtue, but with hard work and concentration, the opportunity for change is there for everyone. I see this knowledge broken daily, so apply it to your brand and see how it changes your value and engagement. Next time you’re on set, in the darkroom or about to hit the “post” button… slow down, take your time and use your head. The results will reap the reward.

Practice Patience

If you have a success story to add, feel free to comment. And as always, if you like what you see here, stay glued via Facebook or my photography blog.

Clay Cook's picture

Portrait and Editorial Photographer, Clay Cook has learned the importance of going the extra mile, after a long, arduous run in the music business. Clay has shaped creative projects with History, Lifetime, Comcast and Papa John's Pizza. In addition, he has photographed assignments for Time, Forbes, The Guardian, W Magazine, USA Today, ESPN and Inc.

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Very infomative article. Great BTS shots. I agree with a lot of your client interaction points.

Thanks Manny! Much appreciated!

Great points in there. When shooting models, I had a tendency to just keep firing away when they weren't giving the pose I wanted in blind hope that they'd eventually give me what I was looking for. I learned that if you just put the camera down and go talk with them one-on-one, you'll usually get the pose much quicker. Patience pays off. Plus it helps to not be yelling from behind the camera.

Totally Patrick. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the kind feedback!

Very true and Informative. Thanks for all of your advice!

Thanks Mark!

I always think about this when i am shooting lightnings! Sometimes I wait 1 hour to get a shot, othertimes even more. But that when the photo gets more value to me! :)

Good idea

Thanks for including the best times to share with social media - very helpful!

You're very welcome Robbin! Good luck out there! :)

"Avoid Friday and Saturday, which is the lowest for social engagement." Hmmm - I just read a piece aimed at PR practitioners that stats show Saturdays are the best days for social media as people (you want to reach) are too busy doing the work week. Lots of self-proclaimed experts in the new media world.

Thank for the comment Howard! I've heard a lot of different opinions and have done quite a bit of research. It really depends on WHO your demographic is. But from my experience and engagement, there is one guaranteed day that is lowest for me. That is Saturday. People are active and out and about on Saturday's, weekday evenings will always win. Just from experience. :)

You're right, it depends on the target. I wish I could recall the article that said, paraphrasing, 'for businesspeople, weekdays are too busy - reach them on Saturday when they are catching up.' Of course if you're only reading each Saturday you will NEVER catch up.

Very good article


Fantastic article, Clay. There are so many variables to success and the ability to master timing and patience is mission critical. I especially liked the part about when to post work to social other words, bet on the reaction that is brewing, and place yourself in the vanguard of it.