Bryan Cranston's Advice to Actors Is Pertinent To All Creatives

Bryan Cranston has become one of the most famous actors in the world after his wildly popular portrayal of Walter White in TV show Breaking Bad. Backstage at the Oscars, Bryan was asked to give advice to aspiring actors. His response could be pertinent to any creative, but especially photographers. 


Know what your job is. About 18 years ago I had this cognition. I realized I was going into auditions trying to get a job, and that simply wasn’t what I was suppose to be doing. An actor is suppose to create a compelling, interesting character that serves the text. You present it in the environment where the audition happens and then you walk away. That’s it. Everything else is out of your control so don’t even think about it or focus on it. You’re not going there to get a job. You’re going there to present what you do. You act. And there it is. And walk away. There’s power in that. There’s confidence in that. And it’s also saying I can only do so much and the decision of who might get a job is so out of your control that when you analyze it, it makes no sense to hold on to that. That for me was a breakthrough. And once I adapted that philosophy, I never looked back. And I’ve never been busier in my life.”

Looking back on my photography career I can understand how valuable this advice is. I can remember when I first got into wedding photography and I would go to meet with a potential client and do everything I could to "win the job." I lost the majority of those weddings. At the time I couldn't understand why but looking back now it's so clear. I came off as desperate back then. I projected, "I will do anything you want, just hire me." That's the opposite of confidence and is certainly the opposite of what you want in a wedding photographer. 
As time went on I became a better photographer and businessman. I slowly built my own personal style. I had money saved up and I no longer had to have a job to survive through the month. My attitude completely changed when I would meet with clients. If they asked me to shoot or edit pictures like another photographer, I would politely explain that I have a certain style that I will not change. If they asked for a discount I suggested other photographers in town who were cheaper. I would leave these meetings without any sort of anxiety about whether they may or may not hire me. I knew that at this point the decision was in their hands. Surprisingly, the majority of these clients ended up hiring me. They actually appreciated my confidence, and it made them feel like I was capable of being in charge of their special day. 
Prepare by becoming the best photographer you can be. Create a beautiful presentation for your potential clients. But once you've done your part, it's time to walk away, knowing you've done everything you can. Your confidence may be the reason for landing the job. 
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Guillermo Fierro's picture

Great article Lee. I´m starting my carreer as a commercial and conceptual photographer. I´m starting to have a style too. I´m starting to make marketing my work to get my first clients and I have a question. How much time it will take to have a steady business???

Sadly that is impossible to answer. It's like asking, "how long until I produce a hit album." For most people it's slow and steady but there are of course a few rock stars who hit it big on the first shot.

Guillermo Fierro's picture

Thanks!! The book "The real business of photography" by Richard Weisgrau said that if a photographer become popular very fast, then very fast will be disappear. He suggests to build a strong career little by litte, with years. Is that true? or the time has changed.

I don't think there are any "rules." I know a few guys who have come up fast and are still doing quite well but most of my friends have been doing a little better each year.

and most of them go home with just that one hit.

Stephen Vosloo's picture

This is gold! Good stuff

Percy Ortiz's picture

This is the best piece of advice i've heard or seen in a very long time. Thank you Lee

Good stuff.

something to consider now that I am starting to cross over into weddings. Even though I have been doing photography for many years (started out in film), the whole business aspect especially that wedding thing is new to me. No I will not try to devalue the industry ;-)

Awesome advice, what a dude.