30 Lessons I've Learned Since Becoming A Photographer

30 LESSONS - From a photographer

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1. Nothing happens overnight. Everything takes time and dedication. Persistence and consistency. Follow your heart and go after your dreams everyday.

2. You cannot make everyone happy. BUT you CAN make yourself happy. And as long as you are not hurting others in the process, you will need to just accept that some people are not able to be fully satisfied.

3. Learn to take CC as a way to grow. Do not take Constructive Criticism as a attack on you personally. It is not a reflection on your ego. Realize that everyone has room to grow, and you should just consider yourself lucky that someone pointed you in the direction you needed to go.

4. Friend like-minded people. Support is a huge thing in the artist community. Loving each other never hurt and if anything it may make someones dim days brighter. Surround yourself with those who genuinely care. If you mistake a nice person for a mean person, don’t hesitate to hit that block button.

5. Don’t be afraid of the quiet days. As a small business owner, you have to expect there to be slow and quiet moments. These are okay. But as they always say, if you have time to lean, you have time to clean. Translated into photographer lingo, this means, even if you aren’t out shooting or getting inquiries, you can update your website and social media pages. You can edit old work, or enter to be featured.

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6. Push yourself. Some things can seem scary at first. Working with couples, I used to fear intimacy between two people that I didn’t fully know, until I realized THEY know each other better than anyone else. All you need to do is act like their mirror. If you were standing in front of a mirror as them, adjust or direct things that you would tell yourself to do. This can sometimes be hard but it’s important to go outside of what makes you comfortable, and don’t be afraid to get close to people so you can really help convey what you want them to do for their session, people really appreciate this.

7. Don’t stop. Even if you got a bad review, or you hate an entire gallery. DO. NOT. STOP. Take a break. A breather. Go for a walk. Then, figure out the why. That is the most important factor. Find out why you feel like you want to stop. Sometimes, for some people its the only option and their lives are just not suited for it. But if you believe you can, than you will.

8.Put yourself first. This doesn’t make you selfish. You are not self centered, but you need to be there for yourself at the end of the day. You need to make priorities and follow through with them. Go out and shoot what makes you happy first. Keep that passion alive.

9. Some people WILL use you for your knowledge. And it is no easy task weeding these people out of your life. You want to lift others up and live by community over competition. But if you feel like you may be getting taken advantage of, put your foot down and move on. If you feel even slightly used for the wrong reasons, remove those people from your life. They will only drag you down, and continue to use you until you say no.

10. It is okay to say no. Again, along the lines of # 9, don’t be afraid to say no to work and people who may not feel like a good fit for you. THIS DOES NOT MEAN TURN PEOPLE AWAY BASED ON RACE, RELIGION, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, ETC. This really means if you get a vibe from someone that they are hard to please, listen to that. Your gut will tell you what you need to know. If someone is demanding more than you can do, be honest, step up and decline the work. If people are asking you to do work that is too far away, or too much work, say no. It will not hurt you, you can even offer to refer these people to someone you may know that specializes in those areas.

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11. Stay true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone else, they are already taken. Be unique and do things that you like.

12. Invest time in everyday to learn something new. Google or Youtube a new camera setting, or editing style. Look up how to market yourself better or how to do anything in the world, do at least ONE thing everyday, and soon the days will add up and you will become a master of your goals.

13. No one is going to tell you everything they know. It’s great to keep in mind that trade secrets are secrets for a reason. If people don’t want to tell you where they took photos, respect that. People spend years looking for the perfect spot for photos, and then even on top of that, a perfect spot isn’t everything. The settings, the angle, the gear, the lens, the expertise, the lighting, the time of day, the season, I could go on forever. An image is compiled from a large factor of things, and it is not a great photo just because of one element. Become a master of it all, and you will learn what works best where.

14. Mean people exist. Not everyone is nice. Some people were dealt a really shitty hand and never got to deal with it in a positive way, and they take things out on others. It is not a reflection of you. Move on and let it go. Hurt people - hurt people.

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15. You will become what you tell yourself. Everyday for years I would tell myself, I am one of the best photographers in the state. I told myself that everyday for years without a doubt. I knew I wanted to become someone and if I was going to, I needed to tell myself who I wanted to become.

16. Let troubles roll off like water on a duck’s back. With EVERYTHING that I do. I visualize things that trip me up in my day to day life, and I watch them roll off my back like water. Practice it.

17. Take time to yourself. It may not always be planned out time to yourself, but you can certainly set time aside every morning or evening, and take 15 minutes to do what make you happy and relaxed. Watch funny cat videos, take a bubble bath, go for a walk, etc.

18. Never be afraid to overshare. I learned this in business school, in marketing class. With the way social media is in 2019, we see A LOT on our news feeds. It is almost impossible to see so much of one person’s posts, that they are sick of seeing them. And if they are, they can always hit that unfollow button. In college I was taught that you want to constantly be in your clients faces. You want to be the first person to pop up as soon as they think “Oh, I need to hire a photographer!” If you aren’t in their face, they won’t think of you.

19. Take breaks. Every 20 minutes get up and walk around. Stare 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Take care of your eyes. We need our vision for shooting, editing, and everything else we take for granted.

20. Charge your worth. You cannot rely on others to tell you what you should charge. You need to do market research here. Look at what other photographers are charging in your area and for what. Do some CODB calculations on top of that research, add that into your experience, expertise, and ability to deliver. You will start out charging less in the beginning, but if you commit, you will slowly begin to know your worth, and then you will charge for that.

21. Keep your eye on your end goal. If your goal is to become a full time professional photographer, remember that and tell yourself that every day. Do one thing every day that gets you closer to that goal.

22. Do good where good needs to be done. Donate your time and your skills to a place or person who deserves it .It feels good, and it doesn’t cost anything to be a good person. Host a giveaway, ask for nominations for someone who deserves it. Seek out those in need and give your time where you can. It’s good for your soul.

23. Stay persistent. This is where self motivation comes to play. Like when you get to college and you realize none of the professors are going to chase after you for your homework. No one is going to tell you that you need to update your website, or invest in a new lens, or learn OCF. You need to have that motivation daily.

24. Don’t be afraid to move forward. Moving forward is different from moving on. When you move on, you feel like you’ve left something behind and you had to forget about it. But moving forward means to learn your lesson, recognize it as such, and carry yourself forward in the right direction. Leave things in your past that you don’t want to bring forward with you, but don’t forget what they taught you.

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25. Don’t be afraid to touch people to adjust things (ask first). Okay this one sounds a little silly, but I promise it’s worth it. People cannot see that their necklace is crooked, or their bow is crooked, but you can. Look for hair ties on wrists, uneven hair, bra straps showing where they shouldn’t. Cell phones or wallets in pockets. People appreciate this. And you will thank yourself for saved editing time later.

26. Don’t be afraid to stand front and center as the lead photographer. This mostly goes to event photography such as weddings. Some people are afraid to step forward closer to the couple for fear of getting in someone’s way. But you must remember that most of these couples who paid you to be there, want you to be up close and centered for photos! Don’t hesitate to discuss this with clients beforehand!

27. Don’t fall too far into trends. When delivering photos to clients, remember that they will look back on their photos and the trend that is cool today, will be so horrid in 25 years, that it will make them sad that their photos look so different or over edited. Try to keep photos true to real life.

28. Support other artists. Comment, share, and like their posts. Buy prints from others. Order magazines, and schedule a photo shoot with them. They need it just as much as you!

29. Love yourself. This should be on the list many times actually. If you cannot love yourself, you will simply be miserable. Forget what society sets for standards. Be easy on yourself. Don’t judge your own work so hard. Don’t take negative comments to heart. Be your own biggest fan.

30. Stay in your lane. Do not compare yourself to others. One flower does not affect how the flower next to it blooms. Focus on bettering yourself.