Defining Your Success As A Photographer

As creatives we juggle with the idea of defining success. We wrongly do things like compare our work to other photographers, or we always look at what other photographers are doing. We compare things like the number of client’s another photographer shoots compared to how many we shoot. We also compare and contrast skills, pricing, and social media followings. When we should re-focus our time an energy on our work and developing or skills. In this blog, I will discuss ways in which photographers can define their success. Honestly, no one’s success is the same because your success is meant for you and no one else!


Simple Success Vs Complex Success

Simple success eludes to the idea of setting short term photography goals or achieving small milestones within your career.  Goals examples can be mastering shooting backlight, scouting new locations, shooting a theme or style you have never shot before etc.

 One example, of simple success can be just shooting 4 sessions successfully. What I mean by that is being professional and on point with posing, lighting, editing, client interaction. It also includes building a strong everlasting relationship with those 4 clients. Get to know them talk to them and make them feel important while shooting with them. This makes and big difference in your final images. Interacting behind the lens loosens them up and makes them comfortable with you. Therefore, will make them comfortable telling their friends and family and how great their session went with you. Which will lead to more buzz and clientele for your business. Remember you have to do great work with a small number of people before you can expand and shoot multiple clients successfully. It’s good to start small and work your way up the ladder.

Complex success eludes to the idea of setting long term photography goals or achieving bigger milestones within your career.  Planning to attend a workshop for growth and expansion is a long term goal. In addition, to attending a workshop you can plan a styled concept shoot with a budget over a period of time.

One example, of complex success is hosting a shootout to build a community of photographers in your local area. This is a great idea because you can lead by example that photographers can ban together and support each other. Nothing is worse than the crab mentally. Everyone climbing to the top snatching each other by the legs. There is room for everyone to be successful in this crowded industry.

Finding Inspiration  

When finding inspiration for posing, lighting, composition, and editing techniques and styles look outside your genre of photography. The worst thing you can be inspired by is someone in your genre of photography. This equates to copy-cats and sameness. BORING! Find inspiration from fashion magazines, photography books, and Pinterest. Another thing I’m recently doing is creating inspiration boards for photoshoots. It’s easy make a collage of inspirational images based around a theme or themes for your shoot. This gives you a visual aid of what you want to create. You can send your boards to clients to help them dress and find clothes.


Defining Success

Your definition of success should be different from other photographers. What’s meant for one photographer isn’t meant for the other. Everyone’s photographic journey is different and unique. STOP comparing your success with others and define your own success. You can achieve this by setting goals and writing them down and checking them off a checklist.

Example checklist

  •  Shoot a concept shoot every month
  •  Make marketing flyers for the year
  •  Travel to two states to shoot in different locations
  •  Host focus group to better understand your clients  

Finding the right client!

Not every client is a fit for your target demographic or audience. Don’t afraid to say NO TO POTENTIAL CILENTS. There are red flags they come up during the inquire process. If they keep asking about pricing they are bargain shopping red flag. If you quote them a price and they don’t respond RED FLAG MOVE ON! Know your worth and know that your prefect client won’t care about price but more about the experience of doing a shoot with you. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person it makes you wise. Save yourself from the potential problems or headaches. Write down what your ideal client is?

·        What are their age?

·        Where do they shop?

·        What kind of person are they?

·        Do you they see photography as more than pictures?

·        Why should they hire you over other photographers?

·        Sometimes your target client may not be in your city. They maybe an hour 2 hours away.

Get Uncomfortable?

Never get to the point where you think you know everything about photography. Always be ready to grow and learn. When you’re comfortable you get too content and you become predictable. Growing as a creative involves taking chances and risk with your work. Shoot what you afraid to shoot try it and see what happens. Experiment with different light, subjects, locations, themes, and concepts. Get numb to the feeling of being un-comfortable so that you can transform as a person and a photographer. Be mindful and open minded!

Being a great photographer isn’t enough anymore

Being a competent photographer isn’t enough to get people to book you. This is a crowded industry with things like social media, filters, editing apps, and selfie sticks. The goal is to not sale just photographs, but to sell and overall experience. Anyone nowadays can get pretty pictures with today’s technology. Don’t only sell an experience sell yourself as person. When the person being photographed can attach a connection to the person photographing them. It makes the experience that more valuable and personal. Which, leads to a client spending more money.

 How to make an experience?

·        Play music to set the mood and shoot environment

·        As you walking with your client to locations talk to them and ask questions

·        Tell jokes and have fun behind the lens

·        Interview your client and ask questions to feature on the blog you feature their session on

·        Show some behind the camera photos to them

·        Give compliments between poses to ensure them your shoot is going well

·        Go out to eat with them afterwards


I hope this helps someone’s next blog will be about making a diverse portfolio

Lynn BaileyComment