Last night I watched an under 12 girls basketball match. Our team has been having some ups and downs, and have lost more games than we have won. As I watched them trail for most of the game, hit the lead for the first time in the last quarter, fall behind again, and come through for a close win – I saw the parallel in their journey with the journey of most photographers. Here are 6 photography business tips from the under 12’s!
Tip #1. Hard work can produce results. When people enter the photography industry they think it is their unique way of seeing the world, and being able to translate that into images, that is the key to their success. For most photographers running successful businesses, they know that their success is built on a combination of talent and hard work.
The under 12’s reminded me of that last night. The team they were playing were probably more talented, but our team kept working hard, and eventually got the win. If your photo business results aren’t coming, it might not be a lack of talent. Are you working hard enough to produce the results? Are you contacting enough potential clients?
Tip #2. Practice pays off. This group of girls have been together since November, training twice per week and playing once per week. It is a long season for them. We are in March and this is only the third game of the season proper. Encouragingly they are starting to play together as a team. The effort they are putting in at training is starting to pay off.
Are you practicing your photography when you don’t have a paying job? Are you honing your skills? Are you learning a new play? Practice pays off. Perhaps you should be practicing your shooting, or post production, or client meetings?
Tip #3. Teamwork matters. In junior sport, sometimes one or two dominant players can carry a team to success. Last night, out of a team of 10, 2 players were unavailable and 2 were in early foul trouble. The remaining 6 players got a lot more court time than usual. They worked together and shared the scoring. They cooperated to add defensive pressure.
Often photographers running their own business think it’s a one person show. It’s not. You are in control like the coach was last night, but you are not the only one contributing.
Who are the team mates who help drive your business? An accountant? A second shooter? A model? Someone to do your post production work? A mentor? A ‘go to’ person who knows how to help you out of a creative rut? A partner to do your print jobs? A strong team is key – even in a ‘one person’ business. Teamwork matters – build a strong team.
Tip #4. There are hurdles to overcome. Last night, one of the dad’s couldn’t come to the game. I sent him messages every few minutes to keep him up to date with the score. When I look back at those messages, we were behind, 8-3, then 12-10 at quarter time, 22-18 at half time, and we were tied 31-31 at three quarter time. The first time we hit the lead was 36-35 with 4 minutes left. With 1 min 16 seconds left we were up 40-36, then 40-38, and with 2 free throws with 8 seconds left we won 42-38.
Just like in a photography business, they didn’t have it easy. The other team were tough. They had to persevere. And like a determined group of under 12 basketballers, there will be hurdles to overcome in your photography business. It’s easy to give up. Don’t. Expect hurdles and keep going.
Tip #5. It’s Important to be adaptable. In the basketball team we have 2 tall players, and typically one is on the court while the other rests. Given the early foul trouble to other players they both needed to be on the court at the same time last night. The team adapted (and got a few more rebounds!) As a working photographer you also need to be adaptable.
Your path to success might not be exactly as you originally thought. You might have to shoot some local events and build a network before the high paying weddings start rolling in. You might need to shoot some corporate portraits before celebrities are knocking on your door. Be adaptable and be patient. Sometimes business success avoids the highway and takes the scenic route.
Tip #6. Success is very sweet when you have to work for it. This basketball team has had more losses than wins so far. But the look of satisfaction on the girls faces last night showed how much it meant to overcome a strong team and come away with a win. They had to work for it. The stadium was hot, and there were some very tired kids at the end of the game. But there were some very satisfied looking kids. They had achieved something important.
And in our photography businesses, it won’t be easy. Success after struggle is very satisfying. If you are currently struggling, re-visit the five previous lessons, and trust that success is coming. When it does arrive it will be sweet.
Thanks for reading 6 photography business tips from the under 12’s. Remember that whether you have had a good week or a bad week, there are lessons to learn to take forward into next week. Like the under 12’s, your next opportunity is already looming. Be ready for it. Happy shooting.