One of My Top Three Photography Career Tools

You need balance as a photographer, and that means addressing the business side as well. We are creative beings, and running the day to day is something we're so great at avoiding.

I relied on that to build my career, assuming that most photographers wouldn't do the daily business. I made sure my day was organized and each part of my life was on paper. Here's how I was able to get ahead and get the clients that I always wanted.

Walid Azami photography Wendy Williams

Walid Azami photography Wendy Williams

I created my own daily planner that was catered to a career in photography. Many of the store-bought planners had sections that I found irrelevant and ended up not using. That's what made me design my own, and it proved to be highly effective. 

Here Are Five Ways My Personal Planner Helped Me Grow My Career

  1. Learn Something Each Day: I challenged myself to learn one new thing a day, whether it was a tax code or how to use my tripod. One new thing adds up quickly and starts to propel your career forward.
  2. Balance: I failed when it came to balancing, but because I was younger, I was able to recover quickly. However, I put all my efforts into professional and nearly zero into my personal. The daily planner sheet helped balance that out.
  3. Reach-Outs: We're isolated creatures, and it's hard to build relationships when you're hiding behind your computer screen. A good daily planner makes sure you document who you've reached out to. It's about humanizing your work and putting a personality behind it. Not all reach-outs should be about jobs. Sometimes, you want to congratulate another photographer for creating something incredible, and other times, you want to check on someone's mental health. 
  4. The Physical and Mental: You have to take care of the physical health, the mental, and hydrate that body that runs your entire business. My planner took care of that, but I still fail on enough glasses of water each day.
  5. Stay Accountable: Sometimes, we creatives get excited about a new idea and then lose track of our destination. Keeping my daily sheet kept me on track and also kept me accountable. When business was sparse, I would flip back and see empty pages. When business was booming, I would flip back and see full pages and every category utilized. 

Learn more about how a daily planner could benefit your business and photography career. If you want a copy of my daily planner, it's also there in the video. 

Walid Azami on set with Ricky Martin

Walid Azami on set with Ricky Martin

Either way, as a creative soul, you must nurture the business aspect of your career. In most cases, you're the only one bringing the business. You're the only one doing all the marketing, accounting, housekeeping, editing, shooting, financing, selling, website upgrades, social media, and more.

Take care of yourself! You have a responsibility to stay healthy and balanced. There isn't another photographer on this planet who can see life the way you do, who can capture images from your point of view. Have a wonderful 2020 and beyond!

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sam dasso's picture

So daily planner helps you book Kanye, Mariah Carey, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and many commercial brands. I'm glad I read this article.

Walid Azami's picture

So I clicked on your profile and all you do is leave negative comments on many articles, which is a lonely place to be.

sam dasso's picture

First of all my comments are not negative. They are my opinions that some people agree and some people disagree. My up votes are 4 times the down votes. Some time my comments are just statement of facts. Like my comment on your article. You are very successful photographer and I admire your success and I'm pretty sure that it is well deserved. But don't tell me that your success is due to your daily planner.

william hicks's picture

And your failures aren't all your failures to plan but I'd wager a good number are

sam dasso's picture

I never plan for failure in any of my businesses. If business slows down, I move on to something else or adjust my strategy well before failure.

Deleted Account's picture

Try using one, and see how much your production goes up...

sam dasso's picture

Thanks for advise, but daily planner will never work in any of my businesses. I need like 5 year planner.

Deleted Account's picture

That would be a business plan. A daily planner will help you achieve that 5 year 'business plan' by keeping you on track to complete your tasks and goals...

Walid Azami's picture

Sam, I thought about this and quite frankly I feel the comments here are a wild, wild west. This website is a huge asset to the photography community but I'm not a fan of the chaos they allow on their platform comments section.

Having said that, I don't think people write such commentary unless they're feeling frustrated or lost. I get that it's a bizarre time in the photography world, but some of us want to help and I've had plenty of those frustrating days myself.

While you're probably one of the more vocal ones, I know MANY photographers feel lost. If you feel comfortable why don't you send me your email via DM?

Tell me what's bothering you, where you struggle and where you hope to see your career go. If you need help, I want to help you. If you're doing just fine, then that's wonderful.

If I can help you, I will. We can schedule a Zoom call and I'll assist where I can. I'm not debating anyone online, nor defending my knowledge. It's easy for all of us to hide behind internet avatars and debate but it's entirely counter-productive and a disservice to everyone.

I would rather take that frustration and see if we can make it into something productive.
If I can help you, genuinely... send me a DM and tell me how I can help you. The offer stands if you want to take it.

sam dasso's picture

Thanks for an offer, but I'm not pro photographer and have no intention to become one. I been doing photography for 40+ years, but I'm doing it for fun and I'm reading this website because of my general interest in anything related to photography as a form of art. Your advise could be valuable for somebody who needs organisational skills but from business prospective it somewhat close to the bottom of the skills needed. And this why I made sarcastic comment on your article. That is my opinion and I could be wrong. But your genuine desire to help is very much appreciated.

Ben Bowland's picture

Walid, that's one of the most thoughtful responses I've ever seen in a comments section, let alone Fstoppers. Made my day.

Robert Montgomery's picture

I would add be proud of your work, and don't short change yourself .

Vincent Alongi's picture

Thanks for this take. Starting this out, you can feel rudderless at this time of year and need some pointers and guidelines from those who are there.

Walid Azami's picture

Thank you Vincent! Let me know if you have any trouble with filling it out or using it. I use it each day and it really helps.

Mohamed Saeed's picture

This is a useless article for me

Glem Let's picture

Ok so lots of readers on here are asking

Why the ..k are You doing this..? Why are you now teaching and not shooting with such a great book...?

Don’t knock this guy for sharing his knowledge and building his brand, let me explain how it really is out there, because I, like him, had my 15 minutes of fame (mine in NYC) and now the world, and high end photography, has changed.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me explain how it was, how it is and how it’s changed, and why so many photographers with great paid work, are now spending 90% of their time teaching.

Not long ago, there was enough cheese on the table for the top shooters to eat very well, so much in fact that the (very) big crumbs fell down and fed a lot of us 2nd tier shooters very well too.

We’d shoot occasionally for one of the top 5 fashion/portrait magazines and we’d pick up healthy ad campaigns and celeb book covers, we’d earn $100-450k a year.... Slowly getting work and getting noticed. It was hyper competitive, hard work getting your book seen but we did ok.

As the world changed, that thick end of the cheese shrank.... a lot.... big names on several million a year suddenly were not earning anything like that. As a consequence, us mice further down the food chain suffered too, budgets we cut by 90%. Your 100k shoot was now 10k...

In short the market changed in several ways, budgets were cut drastically, stock became much better and much cheaper and lets not ignore the fact that it’s become very very easy to take a photograph...

Art buyers became younger, less set in their ways and wanted the overdone ‘Instagrammy’ look, at the same time clients would say ‘ don’t do anything too wild... don’t get me fired..’ so complicated, expensive, high end photography was out, cheap, safe images were in.

In short big shooters who earnt $1-5 million a year were down to $100-500k and the rest of us were starting to sink.. and fast..! Those with a big studio and several staff were faced with going under, those with big mortgages faced repossession...

Take a look at today and the commercial market is tiny compared to 10yrs ago, the BIGGEST market in photography is the AMATEUR-ENTHUSIAST market, sites like this, courses, outings, trips, presets....

Cameras and lighting etc has all become smaller and lighter, easy for enthusiasts to carry on their trips. Models are easy to book online now... so anyone who likes photography can try anything...

So don’t kick this guy for sharing and educating and passing on what he knows, he’s just doing his job in a marketplace that’s changed an awful lot.

Yes I stay anonymous, yes half the contributors on here are just cutting and pasting from other sites, but here me out, at the top of the tree (LA, London,NYC,Paris) times have changed... I’m happy with a low profile and keeping the few nice clients I still have.


sam dasso's picture

What a smart and honest comment! I'm impressed. Very seldom you read something like this. Everything in this comment is right to the point and not sugar coated. As a matter of fact I'm one of these amateur-enthusiasts who reads this site. I have top of the line cameras and lenses and been doing photography for fun for at least 40 years, but I never entertained an idea to go pro. Takes too long and takes to much effort to make decent money in this business and now days when cameras like A7RIV and A9 practically shoot by them self , anybody can point and shoot at the level of the pro. And don't start me on "creatives". I would never put any of creative pictures on my wall next to Mona Lisa.

Jim Cutler's picture

I don't see a single thing in this article that's bad or should make anyone mad. He's not saying you'll work with Wendy if you plan. He's sharing a smart, positive tool that benefits any creative. I think I figured out long ago not to share on a web site. You could legitimately provide the cure for cancer and anonymous people would lash out. On the other hand, if you don't share then you aren't a creative. We all paint or photograph or write to share it. We just have to remind ourselves that everyone has access to a comment keyboard. Walid, it's nice to meet you.

Walid Azami's picture

Thank you, Jim. All we can do is control how we move forward. I appreciate your words. The help is there for people who want it.