It’s a business, not a hobby

I think the single greatest error many of us make in professional photography comes down to mindset. This is a business like any other, but some act as though it’s a full time hobby. I am talking about those of us who choose to take everything personally and who don’t accept that really it’s just work like any other trade or profession.

You know the type: if a potential client doesn’t call them back it’s a personal affront. If an editor publishes the wrong picture or crops it poorly it’s the greatest possible slight. Some will even let them know in no uncertain terms how they feel about such a sacrilege. They’re the ones forever condemning “the state of the industry” to anyone who will listen. Then they’re left wondering at their low rate of return work.

Meanwhile, the wise (and successful) among us move on to the next assignment, content in the knowledge that the client is satisfied and will call again, counting their money as they go. After all, this is business and to that extent we’re not so different to plumbers, in that satisfying customers is key to keeping you afloat in the long-term.

Unlike plumbers, though, photographers do need to consider the creative signature they leave behind in so far as what it says about them. So at first we advise and persuade, but ultimately we must happily indulge the client when we’re on their dime. We can indulge ourselves when we’re not. Just as the plumber’s customer gets to choose the taps, we need to satisfy the tastes of the person signing the cheque above our own. Even when we know better.

This job is about people skills as much as it is about goods and services. If you don’t have the people skills to be business-like, you’ll want to be an extraordinarily good photographer to make up for it.

But I know lots of great photographers who are poor.

Follow Wade on Twitter @wadelaube 

Leave a comment