Let me start by saying if you clicked on a link to this blog hoping to find all of the secrets of how to be a rockstar photographer, you’re gonna be sadly disappointed.
When you think of successful photographers, who do you think of..?
For me (being a wedding, fashion and portrait photographer) its people like Lara Jade, Sue Bryce and Lindsay Adler.
Perhaps the more important question is to ask, what makes a successful photographer?
And then even more importantly, who is that photographer successful to?
I know it feels like I’m diving a few levels on this like Leo and his crew on Inception, but bare with me on this, as it may just help you as a photographer.
The dictionary defines “success” as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
I like that definition. What I don’t like is that others can define an individuals success without even knowing their aim or purpose. That is beside the point of this blog, but it begs a few questions.
I often get asked from photographers who are at the start of their photography journey (there is a reason I used the word journey) how to be a successful photographer. First of all I usually ask them why they’re asking me, do they perceive or view me as successful. If we go by the definition of success above, that really can’t be the case.
I then ask them “What does success look like to you? where do you want to be and what do you want to do?”
Being a successful photographer can mean a multitude of different things to someone starting their journey, or even someone who is on their way.
The first and foremost thing to do is to take away any worries, thoughts, feelings that your success or perceived success needs to be judged by anyone but yourself. That is a really important step. How can anyone else say that you are, or, are not successful if they don’t know what your goal is.
The second and probably most important thing to do is sit down, shut up, get a pen and paper and make a list of what success looks like for you. Decide on the final destination you’d like to be at (not like the films!!!), decide how long you’d like to take for your journey and then decide if that route doesn’t happen to work out, where is the alternative. You need a Roadmap or Satnav for your joinery.
There is no way on earth you can possibly know when you’re successful if you haven’t decided on what successful is.
No one but you can decide what your success looks like, it might be earning the same as your old day job, it might be getting published in magazines, it might be retiring early, hell it might be none of those. BUT, it needs to be something. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.
I know this Blog is full of cliche’s about reaching your goals, but this is one of the few times that I will bleat on about one single point because it’s something that I am extremely passionate about.
In my eyes, I am not a successful photographer because I have not reached my end goal. I am on course, I have hit some of the markers and I am on the time limit I set. But I am still not there yet. To be fair, I’d love to see a photographer who thinks they are there….
If you’ve ever watched my YouTube channel and one of my Vlogs you would have heard me talking about my “Bucket List”. This bucket list is my roadmap. It details all of my business targets/goals/outcomes as well as my personal ones. They go hand in hand. If I am successful in my photography career, it will help me achieve my personal and family goals too. That is something I learned all too late in my previous career in retail management and Im extremely determined not to make that mistake again.
I can’t speak for any of you on what you should plan and how your business and personal life should link together, but, (and I say this on every workshop I run) I earn less money now than I ever have. But, I am happy, I get to take my kids to school every day, I work when I want and I do a job that I love. That is worth more than its weight in gold to me.