It’s too easy to think about how photography has been democratized and how anyone today with a camera can call themselves a photographer. It’s an excuse in fact.
You’re currently reading Fstoppers, it’s a community-based publication that photographers visit regularly to stay updated with the latest tech, methods, and advice. But, it can also create anxiety.
Most of the photos published are of a very high quality and standard, taken by photographers who’ve spent their ten thousand hours working on improving their craft. Looking through someone else’s portfolio is one thing, but being drowned out by hundreds of people’s great work you might think of as better as yours can be demotivating and cause anxiety. So, how do you snap out of it? How do you get yourself up there where you want to be psychologically to go out and be your best photographer self?
I can classify good photographers to have three main characteristics, and it might not be the only ones, but it’s what I think differentiates us from people who aren’t as passionate about the art form as we are, even when they might have the latest gear, drones, state of the art lenses, or travel a lot.
1. You’re Constantly Working on How You Work with Others
It’s one thing to pack your camera to shoot your every day occurrences, but it’s quite another to plan a shoot, to pick up the phone to ask a friend or acquaintance whether you could do a test shoot, or knock on the door of the house you think is well designed to ask if they can give you permission to shoot it.
When calling on these people,you could use excuses like wanting to try out a new lighting technique or lens, or that you want to try some close up portraits. It remains challenging for me personally, and it's something that's held me back in the past. But, in the end it’s all done for you to build your portfolio and to find the photography niche you feel speaks to you in some way when you’re first starting out. If there’s one thing I'd love to tell my younger self it would be to start making contact. Stylists, make up artists, models, architects, industrial designers, musicians, and artists are all in need of good images. It magical match if you can let them understand that what you’re pitching is something you'd love or would love doing, and will learn from.
2. You Like Solving Problems
Being able to thinks on your feet when the sun is too harsh when you don’t have someone to hold up a scrim is an acquired skill and comes with time. When a model arrives and you can sense he or she’s nervous and being able to make them feel comfortable without making it obvious will make a noticeable difference in your images. Receiving an email from a client asking you to remove the tree in the background and not knowing yet how to do it but being eager to learn and do it well is a skill that will take you much further than just your skills in photography. Become the guy who knows how to do or solve it. The "it" being whatever you want it to be. It’s your way of carving out your niche once again.
3. You Know How and When to Focus
Photography is not a nine to five job. The chances of you being employed as a photographer at a company one day is not the most common route for most. No boss is going to tell you to get to work, or to edit or to follow up on a lead for a job. It’s all in your hands, and therefore if you want to take your photography seriously, you’ll need to learn to focus. Sometimes your editing will take you through the night where other days will be for you and your family or loved ones to go hiking. It’s self discipline that will be the answer to your business success.
Maybe you don’t see yourself as having any of these characteristics, and that doesn’t mean you’re not or can’t be or see yourself as a photographer. It’s an opinion that I think will make the route to becoming a self-employed photographer easier to achieve.
What skills do you think we as photographers should have in our line of work? Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments.