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  • Writer's pictureSteve Payne

The Ten Commandments

To Success In Photography or Any Small Business - Part I


How to be a success in photography?

That is a question that I’m often asked. It’s also a question that has spawned many checklist-type answers, half-baked claims, and just downright useless information to those needing a REAL answer.

Photography as a career and/or business is just like any business or career, to rise to the top takes determination, education, pro-activation, and a never give up attitude. I’ve heard it called GRIT. It’s not going to work to be average at photography anymore. You’re either going to be one of the very best, or you’re going to starve to death. Period. Here are a few principles that I think are important enough to be deemed The Ten Commandments to Success in Photography.


1. Thou Shalt Be Totally Committed to A Career in Photography

Do you want to be a photographer or do you HAVE TO BE a photographer? That is the question. You must be in IT for the long haul. No matter what anyone says, it takes time to be successful in photography or anything worthwhile, and that means you must be willing to live, do & be whatever it takes until you make it. So, are you just saying you want to become a photographer with your lips, while not believing it in your heart? Is this the one and only thing that you want to do? (It’s never been easy. I was discouraged from going into photography too) Then as Nike says JUST DO IT!


2. Thou Shalt Discover YOU

If you are going to be truly successful in photography, you must be true to yourself and stand out for just that. Copycats are a dime a dozen. Don’t get caught up in the latest filter or trendy look. Discover YOU! Study art and design of all kinds, and instead, become an artist of integrity that others will want to copy. Don’t be different for the sake of being different, be different because no one else can be you…and that’s different enough.


3. Thou Shalt Build A Base of Repeat Clients and Fans

You cannot survive trying to find new clients every week. You must constantly be on the lookout for new clients, but repeat business is essential, and is really the basis for finding new clients too. When clients trust you totally, in both your character and your taste, they will give you the freedom to be yourself with the work you do for them, and sing your praises far and wide.

I will add that social media is fine as part of your marketing tool set, but a firm handshake and a solid look in the eye will go further than a hundred tweets on Twitter or posts on Facebook. We may be in the new age of media, but you’ve still got to go old school now and then and see your peeps face to face. Trust me it works!


4. Thou Shalt Follow The Golden Rule

It’s much easier to keep a good client than it is to find a new one. Do unto others as you would do for yourself. Go the extra mile, spend the extra time, and make everything you do for all of your clients the very best that you can do, and you will always have work to do and people to recommend you.

Pay attention when someone gives you incredible service. Pretty nice huh? Kind of unexpected right? Why was it great? How can you apply it to what you do for your clients? There’s just nothing better than being treated like a king…or queen.


5. Thou Shalt Be In Love With The Work, Not The Equipment

Modern equipment is great! As Canon used to say, “So Advanced, It’s Simple.” And, that’s exactly why so many people enjoy photography as a hobby. It’s also why the competition is so great these days. Your neighbor and many of your clients will have the same or better camera equipment than you do. If you can’t blow their minds with the quality of your images, then you don’t have any shot at making it in photography. You can make a fantastic image with almost any camera these days, so don’t worry about having the latest and greatest equipment. Make great images, that simply can’t be denied as superior to what your clients are doing, then you’ll gain respect as a true professional.

Nothing really complicated here, but if you ignore these rules, you’re destined for failure. Stay tuned…the next five commandments are coming in part 2.

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