Have you been thinking it is time to give up on professional photography and all of your dreams?
Discouraged? Overwhelmed? Frustrated? Full of self-doubt?
Then you are not alone – all photographers who run businesses will reach a point (or points) when they are pretty much ready to give up on professional photography. To put the cameras down and head back out to a 9-5 where they are taxed at source, get annual leave and have weekends off. I have been there and so have all of the photography businesses that we have mentored.
So, if we have established that bouts of self-doubt and fear are normal then the next question has to be:
‘Should you give up on professional photography?’
We don’t think so. BUT only you will be able to turn the situation around. We are very proud of what we have enabled our students to achieve with the necessary support although we are always very clear to say that we just give them wings – they are the ones who have to fly.
Although each photographer that we train is unique the majority of WHAT we train is not.
Through years of mentoring and training photography businesses who are ready to give up as professional photographers alongside running our own (www.katehopewellsmith.com & www.bylumiere.co.uk) we have learnt the following 10 things:
Photography looks easy but it is actually quite difficult to do well. As a training business, we talk about ‘filling knowledge gaps’ however many photographers are not even aware of the gaps that need filling.
Photographers want everything quickly and are looking for a shortcut – but there is no elevator – you absolutely have to take the stairs. Henri Cartier-Bresson made the point when he said ‘your first 10,000 photographs are your worst’. Photography is called a craft for a reason and we are certainly still learning. And still making mistakes.
Many photographers don’t want success enough or they are surprised that it is harder to achieve than they imagined. Without question, you have to be prepared to not just step outside your comfort zone but venture far beyond the boundaries (note fave quote by Neale Donald Walsch ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone‘).
Photographers underestimate the responsibility and challenge of being a business owner. The mortality rates of small businesses are frightening but avoidable. Running a business well is the most important thing that a photographer who wants a sustainable and successful business must learn to do.
Photographers have a tendency to spend money on the wrong things initially – prioritising your investment is critical and it rarely in the exciting stuff you would like it to be.
Photographers need to be critiqued but by experienced professionals and not their biggest fans (parents, husbands, friends etc).
Photography is the biggest time hog known to man. Learning to be efficient and effective will not only save your business but probably your marriage.
Photographers HATE the subject of pricing and sales – it is the single most feared aspect of running a business. It is also one of the most important.
Photographers, particularly the ladies, often don’t understand IT and fail to successfully implement backup systems and structures.
There is a lot of ‘hot air’ in the photography industry and spending too long comparing yourself to competitors is not helpful. Many photographers actually earn less than minimum wage they just don’t know it.
I started out as a keen amateur and invested in photography training as a priority – some of which was good and some of which was bad. I was continually gathering nuggets of knowledge and I have always used the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. In 2009 I could see the whole table and now the puzzle is far more complete but I’m still searching for the missing pieces. Gaining photographic knowledge – both technical and creative develops confidence.
We wholeheartedly believe (make that know) that confidence is the most important, vital ingredient that is often missing and it is the path to recovery for those photographers that are quietly struggling with self-doubt. If you are feeling discouraged and overwhelmed then share your feelings below or get in touch with us for an honest chat about how to turn things around. This might just be a workshop to fill a gap or some 121 mentoring to cover the areas you are most struggling with. For some of you, it could even mean starting again and lay your foundations properly on our 6 month part-time programme.
Laura of Laura May Photography was feeling like giving up when she came to meet us a year ago. After a big chat about where her business was and where she wanted it to be she applied to join the Foundation Programme and she ‘graduated’ in February this year with a complete business and confidence overhaul:
“I completed the six-month Foundation Programme and it is the best thing I ever did for my photography business. I had been plodding along for a few years, not really knowing what direction to take, not knowing how to run the business profitably and lacking skills in all areas. Kate, Brent and Becky have provided professional, supportive and in-depth training. Kate is a fabulous trainer and answers every question and holds back nothing. Training by Lumiere has made me confident, knowledgeable and happy to be moving my business forward in a way I’d never thought possible. It’s also opened up new contacts and opportunities for me with other people in the industry. I am going to miss the team and other delegates (new friends for life) enormously and may just turn up every month and try and sneak in for a cuppa and chat so I can see them! THANK YOU”.
You can also read about Leri Lane Photography’s journey with mentoring here – we have lots of heartfelt testimonials and our students do a much better job then we do at describing the training. I will say that Training byLumiere’s core principle is ‘after light’ and it resonates with American philosopher Allan Bloom’s statement that ‘education is the movement from darkness to light’. What matters is the concept that there will be an evolution or change – a journey to a much better place.