20 Ways to Grow Your Photo Biz in 2022: Part 4 of 4 (Tips 16-20)

In the final part of my four-part series, I want to focus on the one person who can make or break your photography business: you.

It’s hard to believe it’s July already. 2022 is right around the corner, and now is a great time to reflect on the past six months to see how our businesses have grown, as well as review our 2022 goals to see where we may need to adjust our strategy. For tips 16-20, I’ve decided to focus on personal growth and development, because the hard truth is that success in business and in life starts with how we view ourselves and what we think. be able to accomplish. While some of these latest tips may sound cliché or existential, everything here is based on my personal experience. Special thanks to Richard Waine for all his help in creating this series of articles.

16. You have to believe you can do it

Around 2017, I had a kind of career crisis. Even though I owned a successful business, had a part-time job as a college professor, had just completed a doctorate, owned a house, and had a beautiful family (in other words, I was living the “dream”), I felt empty inside, like my career was stuck and my decision to study music was a huge mistake. There were also other factors that I don’t need to go into here, but as a young man entering college I chose music over photography, even though both were passions more or less equal in my life. And now I found myself, more than a decade later, feeling like I missed the boat and regretting my life choices.

It was around this time that I started learning portrait photography. I remember telling my wife that I would have liked a career in photography instead of music, and I felt like it was too late to change anything. I had this feeling of doubt and regret, mixed with bouts of depression, and I didn’t believe I had the talent and the ability to become a great photographer. It felt like a dead end and like it was too late to start over.

A lot happened between 2017 and opening my photography business in 2020, but the substantial change started with my mindset. It wasn’t until I started to believe in myself as a photographer and a businessman that I started to succeed. I realized at some point that I could accomplish anything as long as I was willing to put in the time and put in the work to learn the necessary skills.

If you don’t believe you can be a successful photographer (or anything else), you’re right. You will do everything in your power to create the reality that you already believe in your mind, so my advice is to listen to that voice in your head very, very carefully and make sure it doesn’t sabotage you. We all struggle with negative thoughts and self-doubt, but successful people learn to recognize negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. More than that, they plan short- and long-term goals and pursue them vigorously, regardless of periodic negative thoughts.

In 2020, I was days away from selling all my photography gear and giving up. I’m so glad I didn’t, and while I have a lot to accomplish with my business and my career, I’m now doing things I didn’t think possible just a few years ago. And, if I can do it, you can too!

17. Find a mentor

The key to success in any industry is finding a mentor that you click with and whose work inspires you. In my personal journey, mentorship has been an integral part of my growth. When I decided to finally take the plunge and make photography a career, I took every opportunity to study with my mentors however I could. I have attended several photography workshops and spent countless hours being criticized and watching others be criticized as well. I photographed as many friends and family members as possible to hone my skills and grow as quickly as possible. If you feel stuck as a photographer, with a lack of focus and direction, my advice is to find a mentor and make sure they are very successful as an artist and a business person.

18. Learn to take criticism

Finding a good mentor is the easy part. Listening and implementing what they say is harder, especially for those of us with big egos. And let’s be honest, photographers can be some of the most selfish and important people on the planet, in my experience even worse than musicians, and that’s saying a lot!

Over the years that I have studied with my mentors, as well as in mentoring other people, I have noticed three basic types of people. There are those who listen and accept constructive criticism, making it a point to improve their work on the next shoot. These are the people who are growing at an exponential rate as photographers and sometimes in just a few months they are doing amazing work, better than many photographers have been in decades.

Then there are those who hear criticism (note, they hear, but don’t listen) and immediately explain all the reasons (apologies) why the mentor is wrong. I’ve seen it over and over again in mentoring sessions. It’s the people who interrupt and say “I know, I know, I did X because Y” or “My client had this or that wrong with him, so I couldn’t take the right picture” or “I don’t see what you are saying and disagree. “They are always full of excuses and don’t listen or apply the wisdom given to them. Because of this, they never grow.

Finally, there are those who accept no criticism. These people are immediately offended at the slightest criticism and attack those who try to help them, often with personal insults or insulting the work of the mentor. In short, they are unteachable, because they already know everything. Ironically, the most successful people I’ve met and worked with in photography and music are always the most humble, always writing down everything they have to learn.

If you want to grow in business and in life, learn to take criticism and be your own toughest constructive critic. When accepting criticism from others, just make sure they have your best interests at heart and want to see you succeed. At the same time, ignore all the other trolls and critics who just want to put you down. They can fly a kite, as my grandmother used to say.

19. Take a day off

For those of us who are entrepreneurs and are naturally driven, it’s incredibly difficult to flip the switch. I’m constantly planning content, reading business books, tweaking my website copy, and in the meantime, checking multiple apps to see who’s commented and subscribed to my various platforms. I realized that I was burning out and something had to change.

Then it hit me. Scheduling one solid day off a week isn’t lazy and it has helped increase my productivity. This is because our body and mind need rest to function at their highest possible level. If you never press the kill switch, you will crash hard sooner or later.

On my days off, I make it a point to leave my phone and computer behind and be there with my family. On my last day off, we went to an art museum and I enjoyed looking at paintings and sculptures for long periods of time, observing how they made me feel. I couldn’t believe how fulfilled, calm and joyful I felt after leaving the museum with my family. I felt renewed. I also suggest meditating, reading literature, or just taking a long walk in nature, with no motive and trying to force your mind to think about your next business decision. Ironically, I also find going out on a day with my camera to be extremely relaxing and invigorating. When I do this, I have no agenda or goal except to enjoy the art of nature photography or stroll down a busy city street. It’s incredibly therapeutic.

20. Whatever you do, don’t give up!

My final piece of advice in 2022 is simple: don’t give up. Whatever else you do, don’t give up. I have had and continue to have a lot of struggles, failures, haters and trolls in my life, both online and in person. It’s part of the process of being successful, and the people we most admire have always experienced failure, usually right before their greatest triumph. The next six months of 2022 are yours to make of as you please, and as I said at the start of this article, the only one who can stop you is you.

Thank you very much for reading part four of this series. If you missed the other articles, click to read part one, part two, and part three.

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