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What Does Success Look Like For You In 2014?

What Does Success Look Like For You In 2014?

As the end of the year looms, we begin to look back and reflect on the previous year and think about aspirations for 2014. What will make this coming year successful for you? Getting paid to live and work as a photographer? Producing creative, fulfilling work? Being published? Teaching and helping other photographers? One photographer I've worked with this year did all of these and in this interview, she shares her insights on what success is for her - and importantly, what this could mean for you and your career in 2014.

What does it mean to have a successful career in photography? I’m sure we could all produce different definitions of this. Regardless of how we define it, success can be as simple as “having a goal in mind, and working to realize it”. This definition will keep it broad enough for the purposes of the article to make it applicable to anyone, for whatever type of photo or video work you find yourself in today, or aspire to be doing tomorrow.

We don’t need to set goals, but if we want to experience consistent success rates with our work and careers, it certainly doesn’t hurt to think about what we want to achieve, and how we plan on getting there.

So how does this broad definition apply to this article? I worked on a shoot a few months back that resulted in a brilliant successful outcome for the photographer, Lindsay Adler, and thought it would be a great example to look at how what she does and the success she achieves can apply to any one of us.

Lindsay is a New York fashion photographer and director and is the sort of person you could write a book on if you wanted to look at case studies for establishing a successful photographic career.

While Lindsay has been a professional photographer for many years, she likes to remind us that she has only been shooting fashion photography for the last 4 or 5 years or so. When she first started out, she used to reference a particular fashion magazine, NOISE, for inspiration. She has just been published twice in the latest edition (you can see the BTS video I put together of one of the shoots below).

For a fashion photographer, being published once in a highly regarded magazine for the first time is great; being published twice in the same issue is an amazing achievement and it got me thinking that it would be interesting to look at how some photographers achieve “success” in their field - and importantly, how what they do can apply to us so we might be able to also become more successful in our own endeavors.

I used Lindsay's recent publication as a "case study" to look at how she organizes herself, what she thinks about and how she looks to provide advice and insight into how we all can achieve our own versions of success, however we wish to define it.

While you listen to the interview,think about how you too can achieve your own levels of success for your photographic career in 2014. Whatever type of photographer you are, there are a number of insights we can all apply here to our own work and business to hopefully lead to more success in our own photographic careers.

Here is the short video interview that I put together that I hope gives you an insight into the success story of the shoot, and the wider look at how she set out to achieve a key milestone goal and measure of personal success. (The audio is a lower volume than the first video above, so please turn up headphones/speakers).

Please feel free to share what goals and aspirations you have for 2014 in the comments. Whether it's simply to take more photographs, or to shoot a major commercial campaign, I would love to hear what you are striving for in the coming year.

David Geffin's picture

David is a full time photographer, videographer and video editor based in New York City. Fashion, portraiture and street photography are his areas of focus. He enjoys stills and motion work in equal measure, with a firm belief that a strong photographic eye will continue to help inform and drive the world of motion work.

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Even at full volume, the speech in the interview video is quite quiet, particularly with regards to the background music in the first two minutes - I found those very difficult to hear as turning up the volume only increased the distraction of the louder music.

Apart from that, thanks for sharing both your insight and that of Lindsay. The BTS video doesn't have these issues with there being no speech, but it's shot well to fit with the subject matter of the shoot.

For me, being successful this year has been having my first exhibition in a new country, with a body of work different to what I had done previously - and being asked to make a repeat project for early next year. Finding people who saw that exhibition and remember the work a few months later has also been rewarding so for 2014 I want to build on the opportunities and doors that are starting to open this year.

Thanks Owain. The interview was mastered at lower volume, i added a note to this, but will ensure i master at equivalent levels when posting 2 separate videos like this in the future, great feedback.

Glad you liked both videos too, and sounds like you have achieved a lot this year and are in a great place to springboard off of this success in 2014. I checked out some of your work, really like the dance pictures in your port! Good luck, let me know how it goes this year.

Slow to reply, sorry - I wondered what that red box was ... I've also started the new exhibition project (this one's in colour so as to avoid becoming a one-trick Black and White pony) in the mean time as well so commenting time has been eaten up a little, but no complaints about that.

Glad the comment was of some use for you to work out what the issue was, I wasn't sure and could only relay my experience of the sound. The videos were still good to watch and I enjoy this site for the inspirations and challenges that seeing great photographers working (and striving to work) brings.

This year has really been beyond my expectations of what I thought would be possible at this stage in a new country, and even in my own. If anything, next year is where the real work begins to build on this year's opportunities!

Thank you very much for the kind words, means a lot. All the very best for the New Year to you too! Happy Holidays!

For me, being successful would mean nothing fancy, only beign able to work full time in the photography business. Getting paid to work full time on one's passion is the ultimate achievement.

Andrea i agree - and i made the move only a year ago. It's not easy, but then anything worth having is never easy. I think there are many many people in the same boat, you're post has inspired me to write an article for the site, thank you.


Success for me has nothing to do with money or career... in fact it will probably prove to be the opposite.

2013 has been a rough year for my love of this art-form. I have been in the business for about 15 years in one way or another, but this last year has seemed particularly hard for me. Client demands, industry pressures, and an all around sense of pessimism seems to have made photography shift from work that I love to just plain work.

So, my idea of success in 2014 is to come out the other side back in love with photography. It means to shoot more for myself, and to get back to enjoying the process. It means cutting ties with the monetarily profitable parts of my business that I find frustrating— no more senior/family portraits on the side. And, it means re-learning to play.

It also means that after shooting to someone else's specs for so long, I am going to have to figure out what my own tastes are again.

Good luck finding your Photography again!

Thanks for sharing Jim. As someone who only committed full time a year or so ago, i don't have the history or longevity but i do share many of your views on what you are going through and the challenges i think are the same.

Best of luck with your refocus on 2014 and please be sure to let me know how it's going - i'd love to do an article on how people refocus and realign themselves away from the "bread and butter work" to projects that are more fulfilling and still make it work from a business perspective.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Foundations video confirms I'm doing right things. I'm in my third year in serious pursuit of being a professional photographer, and I'm coming up on my first quarterly review of the year. I have my goals, I've been tracking progress.

The NOI.SE video is excellent! Congratulations to Lindsay Adler, Dave Geffin, et al for a fantastic BTS video.

To Lindsay Adler, Thank you! You're a role model for me. I love and absolutely admire your work. May you have a lifetime of great success!

To fstoppers, I just discovered you folks in recent months. This is a fantastic site. Keep up the Good Work!

For this third year of mine (Sept '13 to Sept '14), here are my goals:

1. Get my work seen by others so they will come to me for photography. My passion is people photography, having started with fashion. DC isn't a fashion center. No matter, it's helped anyway Over the last few months I shot 12 events, had one large portrait session (multiple people), and have been doing architectural work. Some of the people from the events are actually using my pictures.

2. Get real about what I want to do with photography. I'm not 20 years old. I'm also not dead. Really, I'm not! :D Somewhere in between there I know I can achieve some success in photography. I work a full time job outside of photography; both the upside and downside to that is that I'm successful at that. I have a family. What free time I can make goes into photography. Life couldn't be better. That said, life needs to be real.

3. Make enough money to see that I'm on a path to going pro. Grace Coddington said, "You know, you've got to have something to put your work in. Otherwise, it's not valid." The pictures are my motivation, and I'd like to do this professionally. This year I want to be earning more than last year.

The year is off to a good start, bumps and all. Best wishes to everyone out there!


Thank you very much for the nice words on the videos and your comment Graham. I'm also not 20 years old ;) - much of what you say resonated with me but you sound like you have a good outlook and are motivated to succeed. I wish you all the best, let me know later in 2014 how you're getting on and let's compare notes :)

PS welcome to Fstoppers :) Enjoy the site, there is a lot of great stuff on here, be sure to sift through the other articles when you have time!

Success for me is looking back at the past year's photos and holding them up against the current year's photos and seeing some improvement. Did I learn something new? Is there progression? That in itself is the most rewarding thing to me as I wouldn't want to insult the art by not putting everything I have into it. If I still am 'looking' for something I want to share how I 'see' then I'm still chasing the light like a good student. It's my own never ending trail of light ;)

lol love the way you've described your aims; chasing the light and your own never ending trail of light. Nice!

Thank you Fstoppers for this article, thank you Lindsay Adler and Dave Geffin for putting this together. It's a tough competitive world out there for media. This definitely added some confidence and inspiration and direction to where I want to be.

Thanks Lorence, comments like yours are the reasons i put this sort of stuff out there - glad you got a lot out of it, best of luck with your plans to push forward in 2014 :)

Success for me next year would be to finish multiple and bigger personal projects. Find and work with a team of creative people on some higher production value shoots, learn how to get over myself and market myself and learn how to run my business effectively. And most importantly for me is to finally have a printed book by the end of 2014 that I'm able to show to editors/art buyers/etc.