Like any career, becoming a professional photographer requires time, effort, skill, and of course – making mistakes. But there are some mistakes that you may keep making and that are constantly holding you back without you even noticing. In this video, Scott Choucino discusses the five biggest mistakes that were holding him back in his photography career, and maybe you’re making them, too.
1. Working too much
Here’s one mistake all of us have probably made, especially if we do the job we love: working too much. Even though I’m not a professional photographer, I love my job and I also fell into this trap. However, working for the sake of working won’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t make you more productive. On the contrary, it makes you slower and less focused.
Of course, there will be times when you’ll have a deadline and you’ll have to work extra hours. But remember, this shouldn’t become a habit. You need time to rest and recover, to learn and practice new skills, but also to do other things you like.
2. Shooting too much with no intent
Similar to working too much, shooting too much just for the sake of shooting also won’t get you anywhere. Scott gives “365 projects” as an example: they won’t make you a better photographer because they usually come down to shooting without a purpose. I tend to agree with this, and I wrote about it in this article.
So, instead of shooting for the shooting’s sake, take photos with a plan and purpose. Then have some time, analyze it, and think about how you can improve them. Then take photos again and improve them. Analyze them again and repeat the process as many times as necessary. Remember, you need some space to learn new things and to absorb everything.
3. Not chasing a niche early enough
During the first years of his career, Scott says he shot everything: from weddings, restaurant food, concerts, drum kits, and more. However, it’s not as productive and lucrative as it may sound. In fact, I think this is in a way related to working and shooting too much: if you do this, you don’t allow yourself enough space to learn and improve in a specific niche. As a consequence, you’ll always be underpaid because “you’re not a specialist, you’re just a person with a camera,” as Scott defines it. When you focus more on a specific niche, you’ll shoot less. But at the same time, you’ll have time to learn and improve, and in a while, your price will grow along with your skills.
4. Being too cheap
While there are some situations when you can lower your rates or even work for free, this shouldn’t be a rule. If your rates are too low, you likely won’t attract new clients. On the contrary, they might think there must be something wrong with your work if it’s too cheap, So, don’t underestimate yourself and your photography.
5. Thinking too small in terms of location
Scott notes that many professional photographers feel limited if they live in a small town. But this doesn’t have to be an obstacle. After all, location is irrelevant, it’s your work that counts. In other words, if you’re good at what you do, people from different cities and even countries will recognize the quality and hire you. I personally know a couple of photographers like this and from their stories, I can agree with Scott and tell you that this is true.
Have you made these mistakes too? Do you think they have been holding you back?
[These mistakes held me back as a professional photographer | Tin House Studio]