I Will Destroy Your Photography Career

I Will Destroy Your Photography Career

Do you even know who you’re talking to? I am the most powerful person in the industry. I will do everything to destroy your career and make sure you never get any work after what you did. 

Okay. I got you with this, didn’t I? It does sound scary, and I know it. But relax, I am not going to destroy your career. Instead, I will talk about situations where you will hear this said, and what you should do when someone tells you that they will absolutely ruin you as a creative. Sometimes, it’s bad, and sometimes, it’s a baseless claim that you can ignore. 

The first time I heard this said to me, I was properly scared. You will be, too, so accept it and continue reading this article. There is nothing wrong with being scared of someone who said they will block you from work. 

To your relief, no one can ruin your career. But some people can do a few things to slow you down or to prevent you from getting work from your previous clients. This includes agents, especially agents. You will have to have a set of skills that will allow and enable you to get work despite all circumstances. There are two types of people who will say that they will destroy your career: people who have the power to affect it and people that have absolutely no power whatsoever. 

When They Have No Power To Affect Your Career in Any Way

Without getting too personal into my career as a photographer, I have heard the sentence “I will destroy your career and reputation” from people who frankly have no power to do so. Sometimes, they will be members of the crew or just individuals who think too much of themselves. The maximum they can do is ring up your crew and throw shade at you. If you know the crew, which I suggest you do, you will hear about it from them. 99% of the time, someone who doesn’t have any power to do anything for your career (good or bad), won’t do anything beyond stupid claims. 

To get as many people to this group, you need to personally talk to the crew, clients, and so on. Never let anyone do all the talking for you. No matter how good they are, no one should ever speak for you without you knowing. Meet the client, go for coffee, and never let someone represent you without your authority over that representation. This applies to agents who say they will “take care of communication,” What will happen is that your network will depend on one person. That’s not safe. 

When They Do Have Some Power To Affect Your Career

So, if you made the mistake of letting someone represent you to the point of them being able to pass their lies as your claims, listen up. I was there as well. 

This person has the actual power to affect your career negatively. And, if they’re stupid enough to do it, they will. If they are already blocking you from getting some work, what you need to realize is that they won’t stop. Blocking that person completely from seeing what you’re doing or even where you are is the best way forward. You should not call the same person who you think they called and explain the situation. Just let it be for now. Read on to find out what should you do. 

What Should You Do?

Immediately when it’s happening, nothing. Just let it be and focus on working with the people who know you as a person and trust you. As time goes on, here are some steps to take: 

Find New Markets 

There are a lot of clients who like your work. Losing some for whatever reason, even something as stupid as misrepresentation, doesn’t mean you have no clients going forward. If you’re based in Europe, it is as simple as looking at the cities and countries neighboring you. I have client bases in Germany, Austria, and Hungary. These three clienteles don’t mix on a personal level (mostly). Even if there is a storm in one of these ports, I have two others to rely on. The beauty of being a photographer is that you can enter a new market and grow fast in it if you’re good. So, don’t be afraid to write marketing emails to new people in new markets. The more your clientele is diversified, the better. 

Find Different Streams of Income

Not only is this applicable for situations when someone tries to ruin your career (remember, they can’t), it is generally good crisis management and avoidance technique. Because the creative industry is a very unstable one, you should have income from other activities. This may be having a part-time job, teaching, writing, YouTube, or anything else you can do. A good idea is to rent out property if you have some. Ask yourself: if photography disappeared tomorrow, how much can I go on without selling off assets? If the answer is anything but “months, with strict cuts on overhead,” you should seriously think about adding other streams of income. A good plan would be to add as many things as possible and make them account for around 30% of what you make per annum. This is helpful for the quiet months, as well as times when someone tries to ruin your career.  

The Problem With Destroying Someone’s Career (Why It Makes Them Look Stupid)

The problem is that in both cases, when someone tries to destroy your career, it is that they are making the situation worse for themselves. Just imagine getting a call from someone and hearing, “don’t work with this person.” What may follow is a 40-minute ramble about how bad they are. That ramble will be likely full of twisted quotes, inaccuracies, and just downright lies. If someone has the time to do it, they are likely known for being a person who twists quotes, says inaccurate information, and downright lies. You probably can think of a few people like that as well. 

All it does is ruin that person’s reputation and put them in a bad light. No one wants to be part of a drama scandal, especially a client or agency. All they are concerned about is getting images. So far, no client that I know was interested in any gossip. Someone who gossips is making it worse for themselves as they destroy trust. Don’t gossip, kids. 

Final Remarks 

So, there you have it. No one can ever destroy your career. Sure, they can hurt it, but nothing beyond. If anything, you are your worst enemy. A good mantra to go by is that you create everything that happens to you. So, please, create your own career, and stop whining that someone is trying to destroy it. They can’t.  

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13 Comments
Anthony Mair's picture

This article is so bizarre. Worked as a photographer here in Vegas for 15 years. Never have I had anyone suggest they would ruin my career or attempt to call my crew.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Anthony, it does happen. You just have to read some of the comments on this post and others to see there are mean spirited people in our industry. There was a business not far from me that continuously denigrated other photographers. It backfired on them and the business closed.

Mike Ditz's picture

"You'll never work in this town again!"
I have been a photographer for a long time in both Detroit and LA and probably known 75-100 photographers. I have never heard of people coming out and pointing a finger at someone and saying "I will ruin you!" there are much more subtle ways to ruin someone.
I have heard of photographers being blackballed for various reasons and being thrown under the bus for things that may not have been their fault.
But not any Snidely Whiplash characters vowing to ruin someone. Yet.

Michelle VanTine's picture

Definitely has happened to me

Christian Lainesse's picture

Oh noes!!!!1!1

Leon Kolenda's picture

Pure A_s Click bait!

Stuart C's picture

Oh dear.

Joaquin Gonzalez's picture

Did anyone proof read this article? I feel like the author is attempting to explain a personal story without giving us a the background situation (for reasons). It just makes the article confusing and vague. Additionally, I understand that English may not be the authors first language, but would have appreciated having an editor proof this piece. Overall, I get gist of the article, however, felt like a high school paper piece.

adam carter's picture

I fell out with someone I used to work with and it was a sad sad time. They outgrew our partnership, and we fell out big time, and it was a destructive period, for me and my work. They played it cool though and it was really hard to move on. But, not gossiping is very good advice. Get counselling if you feel hard done by, it’s a lot more productive. Don’t share your work burdens with your clients- they will not be the best people to help you.

Greg Edwards's picture

I lost a job in a different industry for reasons I will not go into. It put me in a bad place mentally and I struggled to find work for a considerable amount of time. Rejection letter after rejection letter, or just nothing at all, even temp work via agencies wasn't as forthcoming as it had been prior to that job. In hindsight, it was just a challenging time for job seekers, but I genuinely wondered if my previous employer had somehow put a black mark against my name.

Of course, now, I realise that isn't possible. But going through a dark period like this really makes you paranoid!

Cool Kid2846's picture

I bet you don't even know the true meaning of your art when you make it

Illya Ovchar's picture

Sorry to say but you lost your bet.

doug mcgoldrick's picture

How do you get a client, a crew member, an agent, or anybody so angry with you that they say they will destroy your career? I've been a photographer for 20 years nobody has ever said anything like this to me