Making a career out of photography requires so much more than your talent: interpersonal and business skills, constant learning, and time management skills, to name just a few. In this video from The Art of Photography, Ted Forbes discusses three things that I think are in common for everyone who wants to be commercially successful or recognized as a photographer. Regardless of the skills, knowledge and the talent you own, these are three things you should (and shouldn’t) do if you want to succeed.
Ted’s talk was inspired by a letter he received, asking is it possible to achieve success in photography today. First of all, success means a different thing for different people. For example, some photographers see themselves as successful if they have a lot of followers on Instagram. The others view their success through the number of shoots they do or the amount of money they make. But no matter how you define success, these are some things that are pretty universal if you want to achieve it.
1. Define what you want to do
The first and the foremost, to become successful at something, define what exactly is that you want to do. What kind of photography do you want to make and sell? But also – define what success means for you. This is the only way to clear your own path to success and walk along it with fewer obstacles.
2. Don’t do photography only for yourself
In the letter Ted received, the photographer mentions that he “does photography for himself.” Well, this can be a two-edged sword. Of course, you need to define your style and do photography above all because you enjoy it. However, if you want to become successful in (any sense of the word), you need to do a part of the work for others as well. Add those hashtags on Instagram, interact with other photographers; look for opportunities and get yourself out there.
3. You have to do the work
Finally, no matter how talented and good you are – you have to do the work. I see this as being in a way connected to the previous point. You gotta get out there, offer your services, and publish your work. You also need to be responsible and hardworking, deliver the work on time and respect the agreements you made with your clients. People often think that “all you do is make a couple of clicks,” but you know that photography is hard work. At least good photography is.
Finally, to achieve all this and start walking towards success – you need to be really passionate about photography. It’s a hard work, the competition is tougher than ever, but if you really love what you do – follow these steps and do your best to become successful.
In the culture where I live, you’re only as successful as thick your wallet is. So, a “successful photographer” would be the one that earns a lot of money. However, I see success as something beyond cash. For me, it’s being recognized and appreciated by both wide audience and fellow artists. Also, it’s a personal success if you’re educated and skillful, but still never keep learning and improving yourself. It’s just my personal opinion, but I’d like to hear yours: what does success in photography mean for you?
[Why you won’t succeed in photography | The Art of Photography]