Advice I Would Give to Myself as a Beginning Photographer

Earlier this week, I was asked on Instagram to share five of my best pieces of advice for someone who’s either beginning their photography career journey, or who are wanting to elevate wherever they’re at currently. After giving the question a bit of thought, I responded by bulleting five bits of advice that I thought would be beneficial; however, I just didn’t feel as though that short response encapsulated all of my thoughts and feelings, so I wanted to expand on this mini-list here. As always, I’m going to start by saying that this is purely the opinions and feelings of my own heart; I believe that everyone has their own opinions and ways when it comes to doing just about anything in this life, so if you don’t feel like this advice pertains to you, that is a-okay.

These are the things that have helped me get to where I am at today.

Still learning. Growing. Sharing. Every single day.

FIVE: Specialize Your Work Think of it this way, if you needed major eye surgery would you go and visit a general practising family doctor who does a little bit of everything, OR would you wait a little longer, and pay a little bit more to visit an eye doctor? It’s the exact same with photography; if YOU offer something specialized that your potential clients cannot get elsewhere, then they are going to be willing to pay a little bit extra for your services. If you are a “jack of all trades” photographer who “specializes” in babies, and weddings, and pets, and products, and architecture, then you automatically place yourself into a pool of photographers who are competing to offer lower prices than each other. By shooting everything, you are not at all specialized, which means that when your client is shopping around, they aren’t aware of the unique heart behind the business, they’re just shopping for the lowest cost.

FOUR: Find A Mentor Whether you have to hire someone to be this for you, or you have a friend who’s a few steps ahead of you in business and is willing to help you out, having a mentor who you can turn to at any time is a crucial part in your expansion. We cannot do this alone. We are here to share, to encourage, and to help each other grow. A mentor isn’t just someone who can guide you and push you to taking your business to the next level, but they’re also someone who you can ask any + all of your questions to, free of judgement. Business is hard; but having someone alongside of you makes the ride all the more enjoyable.

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THREE: Don’t Waste Your Money Refrain from throwing your dollars away on super expensive visual branding, or countless website templates, or facebook advertising. I did this, all of this; and looking back, it was such a sad waste of money. I just didn’t know any better. If you do not put in the time and effort to infuse purpose and heart behind your brand, then the coolness of your website, or price tag on your logo isn’t going to make a single difference. Spend that same money into hiring a mentor, or investing in branding or mentoring that will truly help you uncover your WHY and infuse an authentic voice behind your business.

TWO: Stop Doing What Everyone Else is Doing This happens all of the time; if you pay attention, you can physically sit back and watch it happen all over social media. It’s no one’s fault that we end up doing what those around us start doing; a lot of us follow trend simply because we don’t know any better or anything else. We follow suit because we aren’t aware that we are “allowed” to create our own path. Just because everyone else is meeting their clients at Starbucks doesn’t mean that you have to too; instead, focus in on something that YOU like to do, and do that with your clients. Just because everyone is shooting through plastic pyramids for a cool photo effect, doesn’t mean that you have to do it too. Just because someone makes a marketing magazine for their clients, doesn’t mean that you need to make one two.

Granted, you can do every single one of those things if they are a true reflection of YOU + your brand. I’m not saying not to try things out and experiment, I’m just saying that you’re allowed to break the mould with all of this stuff, because the truth is that there wasn’t a mould to begin with.

ONE: Be True To You This needs very little explanation. Get yourself out of your brain, step away from the business of life in the city, stop comparing your work with other people’s photography, and spend a day getting real with yourself.

Every single one of these pieces of advice boil down to creating a business around WHO YOU ARE as a person, and WHAT YOU BELIEVE in as a person first, and photographer second. If you have a solid grasp on the true REASON behind why you do what it is that you do (and saying that you love love does not count) then everything else will begin to take shape right before your eyes: you’ll be specialized, you’ll be focused in on real branding that will reflect your purpose, you’ll have clients over for dinner because you love to cook and love hosting people, and above all else you’ll stay true to yourself.