Similar to my teenage dream of becoming a famous recording artist, I somehow imagined that I would become a world renowned photographer.
I could just see it in my mind: getting published in magazines, traveling the world because I was in such high demand, maybe even winning a Pulitzer for my amazing photojournalism.
What I’ve learned in the years since is that the world is full of mind blowingly talented people and compared to them, I’m just not that good.
Lucky for me, talent isn’t the only factor to consider when defining success.
How do I know if I’m successful?
Good question! What is the recipe for success? Just like there isn’t one single recipe for chocolate cake, there isn’t one single recipe for success. You can bake the cake differently and still get a yummy chocolate confection.
After all, how many amazing chefs can you name? I’m certain that Paula Dean and Wolfgang Puck have completely different recipes for chocolate cake but I’m equally certain I’d scarf down either!
Photographers define success differently as well and follow different recipes to achieve the success they’re after. If you want to be successful, you need to begin by figuring out what success looks like.
Define what success means for you.
What are your ultimate goals with your photography business? Do you have a set financial goal you’re trying to meet for the year? Are you portfolio building? Is your ultimate goal to get published in a magazine? Are you planning to quit your day job and focus on photography full time?
If you haven’t taken the time to write out a business plan, then I would highly encourage it. Seeing your goals on paper somehow helps to solidify them and setting yourself a deadline takes it a step further. It’s part of the recipe. You need both the ingredient list and the step by step instructions to make the cake.
How many bookings do you need to meet your definition of success? If photography is your full time job and/or your sole source of income then your definition of success will be a lot different from someone like me who works only part time.
Successful for me at this point in my business is one session per month. It would be silly for me to then compare myself with someone who boasts booking three sessions a week. We have different goals and different definitions for success.
If I’m really not that talented, how can I become successful?
Well first off, not being as talented as someone else doesn’t equate to not being talented at all. I have a beautiful singing voice but I sure don’t sound like Carrie Underwood!
Secondly, if I spent all my time comparing myself to Carrie Underwood, I’d never have the courage to utter one note. Don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to other photographers. You’ll go a lot farther if you focus on you and what you can offer.
Discover your strengths.
I’m not the best photographer in the world. Heck, I’m not even the best photographer in my city! I am, however, good at things that many others in my field struggle with.
While some people stumble through client interaction, I’m a people person and flow effortlessly through conversation. I’m also a good writer, very organized, have attention to detail, etc.
What things are you good at? Don’t focus on photography related skills only. Think of all your strengths and write them down. There’s a reason we so often hear the term “starving artist.” Talent alone doesn’t pay the bills. You’re not only a photographer. You’re also a small business owner.
The End Result
Maybe you will be an award winning, world renowned photographer. Maybe you are talented enough and disciplined enough. But don’t focus your business on the assumption that talent alone will equal success.
Talent is only a jumping off point. Becoming a successful photographer requires hard word, discipline and focus. These are the things needed to help you achieve your dreams.
What area of your business do you feel is holding you back from becoming successful? Leave a comment and let’s chat!
Photos in post by Lea Hartman.