Life is a funny thing in the sense that you never know what tomorrow is going to bring. You could be having the worst day of your life one day, then win a million dollars the next. For those of us who don’t win a million dollars, it is up to us to go out and make things happen for ourselves, and depending on how determined, motivated, passionate, hard working, smart and lucky you are, the end result could very different for each of us. However, one thing is for certain, and that is if you don’t try you will never know what happens or the opportunities you may have missed out on.
Recently, I had an opportunity to take a job in New York working for a TV show. Not photography related, but I would be in NY for a month, and getting paid while I was there. I was a little hesitant at first, but I figured if I made good use of my time while I was there I could come back with something to show (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you take jobs that aren’t necessarily good for your career, I’m merely suggesting you be open minded about opportunities as they are presented to you). So I told myself I would only take the job if I gave myself a project to photograph. Once I got there I hit the streets of Manhattan with my camera on my time off and started shooting what I knew and what I had available, PEOPLE! I came back with entire new series of street portraits that I was able to lay down in front of my clients and say, “I went to New York, look what I did.” Truth be told, hustling and showing that you are motivated and passionate will go a long way in any industry, not just photography, but it is essential if you want to be a successful photographer. I took an opportunity that wasn’t necessarily the best for my photography career and turned it into something that may have propelled my photography career forward, and had amazing life experiences along the way.
You have to live life with the mindset that people aren’t just going to hand you things, most of us will have to work, and work hard to get to where we want to be and sometimes that means you have to go out and make your own luck. Until your portfolio looks like Annie Leibovitz’s, you need to be shooting every day, forming relationships, networking, honing your skills, teaching yourself something new on a daily basis, marketing yourself…etc. Next time you’re sitting on the couch during business hours, get up and MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK!
Recently, I had the privilege of photographing the acclaimed celebrity stylist, Shin, at her new salon in Santa Monica. It was an honor to be the first to photograph such a talented artist inside of the establishment that has been a dream of hers for so long. The attention to detail she gave to her creation inside and out was immaculate, and from what I hear, she does the same with hair. I know where I’m going for my next haircut. I shot 10 different set-ups inside and in front of the salon using only natural light and a Profoto 7b.
Being a photographer doesn’t mean you will be taking photos every day. If it’s just you running the business I can tell you a lot of time will be spent at the computer doing paperwork, marketing, financials, researching, etc., and where will all this computer time be spent? I will be the first to tell you that being a freelancer definitely has it’s perks, one of which is the ability to work from home. However, if you’re not careful, this upside can quickly become your business’ downfall. Having the ability to work from home is a privilege not to taken for granted. In fact, I think working from home requires MORE work than going to office on a daily basis; let me explain.
When you work from home your are more susceptible to distraction, and there are many more distractions that are readily available. A corporate office environment is purposely designed to reduce distraction and promote productivity, that is why in most corporate offices you won’t find TV’s, internet access may be limited, there aren’t as many windows, it’s quiet, etc. Now, of all the things I just listed, how many of those does your home have, see my point? So, when you are working from home, not only are you working on your business, but you are working extra hard to avoid distraction.
I understand that not everybody reading this can call photography their full time job, but the lessons still apply, full time or not. To be successful at anything you have to put in the work and time. To run your own business successfully, you may be required to work productively 80 hours a week, not just 40 (yes, that’s a serious statement), putting in that amount of time means you need to work as efficiently as possible = no distractions. Here are a few tips that have helped me throughout the years work productively and efficiently from home and avoid the distractions that can ruin your business:
This isn’t a complete list, but I hope it’s enough to get you headed in the right direction, it’s helped me so far. If you have any questions about how I do things please don’t hesitate to ask!