Best of Photoshelter’s 2014 Inspiration Handbook

Best of Photoshelter's 2014 Inspiration Handbook


The folks over at Photoshelter have put out a little collection of quotes from photography industry notables for inspiration at the beginning of this new year. It's split up into 6 categories, focusing on the more practical (less "fun") parts of the job: Growing Your Photo Business, Marketing Your Photography, Mastering Social Media, Embracing Personal Projects, Understanding Your Finances, and Getting Hired. Below, we've picked out some of our favorite tips from the document:


Growing Your Photo Business

“My best piece of advice for aspiring photographers is to ask questions. I’m a self-taught photographer, and I had to ask a lot of questions. I didn’t understand gear; I didn’t un- derstand what camera I needed. I found a mentor right here in town—a photographer I loved and became friends with. I tried to offer them some business in return for helping me understand equipment and how to light better. Look for people who inspire you and ask them questions. Be constantly inspired by other people’s work.” - Jade Beall (Photographer & Founder of A Beautiful Body Project)

“The secret to growing your business is to offer your client the entire package. Not only does your photography have to be great, the experience you give your client must always be top-notch. The guy who takes days to return an email or phone call won’t get the job. Professionalism and quick, attentive communication between you and your client are key. Most importantly, while your artistic style may set you apart from other photographers, at the end of the day, those word-of-mouth referrals only happen if your clients are happy. From the moment they send their inquiry, to the big wedding day, to the delivery of their album, give your client your best. You’ll know you’re doing it right when the bride tells you that you’ve made her day.” - Christian Oth (Wedding Photographer)


Marketing Your Photography

“Branding is a concept that can be elusive to many, but it’s a key element that touches every aspect of your business. A brand is more than your logo or the color scheme you choose for your website. Your brand is evident through your niche, your technical style, your website, the way you interact with your clients, and much more. The good news is that, as an artist, you already have a distinct style and point of view, which are essentially what make up your brand. You just need to consciously identify the characteristics of that style and make sure they are apparent throughout all the marketing you do.” - Ben Lowy (Conflict Photographer)


Mastering Social Media

"Twitter is a lot of work, and I spend probably two hours a day on it. I really believe in social media karma, and I like to promote other people as much as I can. I also use Twitter to talk a lot about photography and share interesting links. Once in awhile I’ll post a link to my website, but I try to be very conscious and not do it too much. Nobody likes to hear people just talk about themselves.” - Nicholas Goodden (London-Based Street Photographer & Olympic Ambassador)


Embracing Personal Projects

“As an emerging photojournalist in the early 70s, my focus was on trying to create sto- ries for magazines to the exclusion of almost everything else. I wish someone had told me then that the most personally important pictures you’ll ever make are those about you and your life. I’m glad I had the chance to work for some great magazines, but I re- ally miss those little everyday images, the ones that take place in and around your own life, which will never make the news. Don’t sell yourself short: photograph your own life, not just everyone else’s.” - David Burnett (Photojournalist)

“Perhaps one of the most important aspects of building your business is to develop a body of work on the subjects you care deeply about. I think one of the biggest mistakes photographers make is not having work that defines their interests and strengths. No one is going to hire you for what you say you like to do. You have to show them that you are capable of it first. For example, if you only take portraits for corporate clients, National Geographic will never hire you. So sometimes, it’s better not to accept every assignment and use that time to work on a project that you are passionate about and create that body of work that will get you future assignments.” - Ami Vitale (Photojournalist) 


Understanding Your Finances

“The best piece of advice I have for photographers starting out is know your numbers and your cost of doing business. How much money do you need to live every month? Use the cost of doing business calculator so you can begin to answer these questions and set up a pricing structure for your photography. I’m telling you, if you don’t have an accountant and you don’t know your numbers, you’re setting yourself up to fail.” - Zack Arias (Editorial Photographer)


Getting Hired

“I am exceptionally interested in a photographer with original story ideas. That’s one thing you can’t put value on. Some ideas might be cliche and have already been done, but I remind photographers that when you pitch an idea, the worst thing that can happen is someone says no. Don’t be shy about sharing.” - Brad Smith (Director of Photography, Sports Illustrated)

“It’s a wild world out there, but then it always has been. The earliest advice I was given seems to still hold:

  1. Nothing ever happens when you’re ready. You’ll always be in over your head. Embrace it. Learn to love the fear.

  2. Network like crazy, find a mentor, go to workshops and photography gatherings.

  3. Be nice. People—editors, clients and your photography subjects—want to work with people they like and who will make life easier for them. Be ethical, follow up, don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

  4. And from my mom: “No great chasm was ever leaped in two small jumps.” Go for it. Don’t look down.” - Jodi Cobb (Photojournalist and Freelance Photographer for National Geographic)


You can find the entire collection of tips here