Being successful in photography is, well, objective. We all have different definitions of success and we all have different goals. Am I a successful photographer? Some people think so, but if you put me next to Annie Leibovitz or 1/2 of the photographers out there, I pale in comparison. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of seeing my own work. I look at other photographer’s work and I’m just amazed. Sometimes it inspires me, sometimes it just puts me in a funk, not the type you wanna boogie down to. Over the course of time, I’ve learned a few things that has helped me with my success and happiness. I’m not saying this will work for you, but it has worked for me.
1) Everyone shoots shitty images. Everyone. Your job as the photographer is to be the gate keeper. If you’re going through and making selects of your shoot, don’t even show the client the images you don’t like, because they WILL pick them as the hero shots. Trust your eyes, they came to you for your expertise, if they were capable, they would have shot it themselves.
2) Do not throw pictures up on the internet and include a disclaimer (images are unretouched, straight out of camera). What is the f’in point? It’s not your best foot forward, so take the freaking time to edit the photo. Let’s say the model grabs the image, throws it on her site and gives you credit, next the makeup artist does the same, what happens in the end is that your image is going to be floating around the internet with credit to you and some potential client is going to see it and think, “Wow this guy doesn’t pay attention to the details, like that big zit on the model’s nose.” You think they will want to give you the $10k gig? Probably not.
3) Association. You hang out with crappy photographers, you will remain crappy. Just like anything else in life, you hang out with thieves, you’re most likely a thief. If you want to grow and improve as a photographer, surround yourself with photographers who inspire you, produce great work, people you can learn from. If you’re the top dog in your group, you won’t grow.
4) If you’re just starting out, don’t watermark your photos. No one wants to steal them. You think your images are great but just know that your taste will grow and your images will improve. What will happen is 3 years from now, you will do a google search on yourself and all these shitty images will pop up with your name on them. Once you start producing great work, people will know that it came from you.
5) You need a GREAT team. You can’t do it by yourself. If I gave you Annie’s team, including set design, do you think you can create stunning photos? I bet you could. Find these people, feed them, keep them happy.
6) Let go of your ego. No one likes working with know-it-alls or divas. Be humble, be hungry. Help other photographers, mentor them, assist them, it’s rewarding.
7) Make the money, but don’t forsaken everything else in chase of the paper. The best way to be happy is to live in the present. Don’t put things off til the future, the future may never come.
8) Shoot often.