How to turn epic failure into business success

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on January 16, 2013

in This is Business,This is Life

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Getting started is the hardest step in becoming a paid, professional photographer.

The second hardest?

Rebounding.

Let me start your day with a stomach ache:

– You wrap a photo shoot, plug your card into your reader, and see…nothing. No files, no nothing.

– You’re sitting at home in your PJs and your phone rings at 6:15… “Hey – yeah, we’re here at the City Park; we were supposed to meet at six o’clock, right?”

– You go to delete an image in-camera and instead format the whole card.

– You are just starting out a shoot and your battery dies…with your backup sitting at home on your kitchen counter.

– You’re in the middle of processing a dozen youth soccer teams worth of individual and group photos, and your hard drive grinds to a halt.

– You hear the sickening thunk of your shutter breaking, mid-shoot, and your camera just says… “Error 99”

– You show proofs to a client and they sneer. “This isn’t what I wanted at all.”

Shudder.

Did your stomach flip too?

Mine did every time these professional nightmares became a reality for me. Indeed, I’ve seen and survived every one of these horrors, and countless more over the last 14 years.

These are the kinds of nauseating experiences we photographers fear the most. That fear can be paralyzing, especially in the start-up phase when you feel the most vulnerable.

So many photographers – perhaps you, too – have never even hung their shingle out to go pro because of these fears.

Many good photographers have pulled pulled their shingle and boarded up the windows because of these fears becoming reality.

It’s a damn shame. They had so much more to give. You have so much more to give.

One guarantee in life and business is that something, at some point, will go wrong.

But there’s an equal and opposite guarantee: you can and will survive, move on, and thrive, if you choose to.

You can rebound.

Every time LeBron, Kobe or Carmelo miss the game-winning shot, they hit the lockers, lick their wounds, and prepare to bring their A-game the very next day.

They study what went wrong. They practice and prepare for next time. They shift the odds as much as humanly possible to make sure what went wrong never goes wrong again.

When The Going Gets Tough…

Let’s be real about two things:

1) Human beings have survived wars, gunshots, dismemberment, torture, atrocities beyond understanding – any professional or personal embarrassment you could endure as a photographer doesn’t even rate on the scale of suffering others have experienced and from which still successfully moved on.

2) Every person’s experience is unique and their own – just because others have suffered far worse, that doesn’t invalidate the gut-wrenching you experience when you screw up.

I can’t help you skip the gut-wrenching part, but I can assure you that if you just keep moving forward, the stress will subside and be buried under a mountain of good experiences.

Most clients will be gracious.

Angry clients will move on.

I’ve made a lot of clients (and grognard photographers) mad over the years. People love to vent; they may even get a few hallelujahs from their friends, but the drama is wholly forgotten within days – if not hours.

If you keep moving forward, serving clients above and beyond the call, creating great experiences for them, the chorus of glowing testimonials will outshine any negative attention. Even four-and-a-half star products on Amazon have haters – do good work, and the bad is drowned out by praise.

…The Tough Get Going

The steps to Damage Control are:

  • Accept – Don’t let your ego multiply the negative effects of a bad situation. Accept that you screwed up (or accept that’s what the client truly believes, if it’s debatable). Don’t make excuses. It is what it is.
  • Apologize – Don’t duck your head inside your shell and pretend it never happened. Be the first to point out the mistake and how you should have handled the situation.
  • Ask – Here’s a powerful tool, courtesy of advertising bad boy Donny Deutsch: “What can I do to make this right?” Empower your client to tell you exactly what they want to happen.
  • Act – You now know what to do to remedy the situation, at least as best you’re able. Do it. Go above and beyond to please your client. Give them the same great experience you’d give any client. Often just doing what you say you’re going to do to fix the problem erases every negative feeling the client has.

Rebound

Now here’s the hard part.

And here’s the tool you need to get through it:

Failure = Opportunity

Making a mess of things is a beautiful opportunity to provide a level of service far beyond your clients’ expectations.

Has a restaurant ever screwed up your order?

Did any of them handle the situation with such humility, grace, and generosity that you actually liked them more because of it?

Did you share in amazement that story with friends, family, coworkers, even strangers?

Failure is a stepping stone on the path to success.

Unless you live a charmed life, you will stumble and fall – with regularity – along your road to becoming a successful part time professional photographer.

As soon as you can accept that Failure = Opportunity, you will remove a boulder’s weight off your chest.

Failure is an inevitable and valuable learning experience, and failure will happen with or without your fear and worry. Shift that energy toward practice and preparation.

Starting a business is terrifying, especially for us artists, ever prone to sensitivity. Then we step forward as professionals and ask to be compensated? The internal dialog is murderous:

“Charlatan! Deceiver! You’re not worth it! You don’t know what you’re doing! People will mock you! You will disappoint every last client! You will fail in the most public, embarrassing ways possible!”

The demons of fear are particularly harsh – and convincing.

Add the boiling embarrassment of an actual face-plant into failure, and you may as well call the gravedigger.

That’s the feeling we artists often default to. That’s how we think failure is supposed to feel. That’s what our parents taught us. That’s what school taught us.

Horsesh*t.

Let’s create a paradigm shift, right here, right now:

Failure can feel good.

Know why?

Because failure is good.

Failure is learning.

Failure is progress.

Failure means you’re trying.

Failure means you’re taking risks.

Failure means you’re doing work.

Failure means you’re lapping everyone still sitting in front of their computer wondering what life would be like if they weren’t scared.

Failure = Opportunity.

Internalize that truth – the truth that failure is not a death, but a rebirth – and you will approach professional photography with a rare and powerful confidence.

That confidence enables success – it enables you to focus your energy on bettering your art and business instead of fruitless stress and worry.

Learn to Rebound – with confidence going into every shoot that you will learn and grow from it, come what may – and you’ll holster one of the most powerful professional tools you can wield as a photographer.

Next Steps

  • Write down this piece of sage advice from Bob Parson’s dad: “They can’t eat you.” Stick that where you can always see it.
  • (April 29, 2013, update: Thank you to my wise readers – after enough good advice that this recommended Next Step is just too foolish to responsibly suggest as an actual method to beat your fears, I’ve struck it from this list. I leave it here for posterity. Thank you to readers Hiep, Amy and Jason specifically for providing a professional compass directing readers away from this advice. Jason speaks truth: Murphy’s Law will ensure that every aspiring professional photographer has the opportunity to fail, learn, and grow from their experience.) *** Want a trial by fire? Book a photo shoot. Do the photo shoot. Then go home, and delete the photo shoot (I’ll give you a moment to absorb that one). Call (don’t e-mail) your client and tell them your card had a malfunction, and you’re so sorry, but the photos were lost. Apologize. Ask them how you can make it right (most likely a free second shoot, a free CD of processed photos, and a promise to back-up everything directly after the shoot). Act on it. Your client may tell you to kiss off. They may say no problem, let’s try again. No matter what, you will learn first-hand that failure is temporary, often preventable, and wholly survivable. This is extreme, but if purposely screwing up a photo shoot is what it takes to get you past the fear that’s paralyzing you, then do it. This is madness? This is Sparta! (February 2013 update: Let me add a few words of clarity: My friend and fellow photographer Hiep challenged me on this idea, and deservedly so. Let me be very clear: this trial by fire isn’t for everyone. Almost every photographer I visit with is stuck on a specific fear, and the fear of completely bombing a photo shoot is one of them. This is some high-powered medicine: only take it seriously if you are truly stuck on the fear and worry that screwing up a photo shoot will be the end of your career. Take my word for it if you can, that you’re going to fail often, and every failure is a blessing that takes you one big step closer to success. But if you’re paralyzed by this specific fear, then truly, face that fear head on. You’ll find it’s like pulling off a bandaid – temporarily sharply painful, but once you deal with the problem professionally and with grace, you will immediately realize it is what every failure is: a learning experience. Hiep wisely advises moderation: “Purposefully screwing something up to ‘test’ out different ways to deal with it is just wrong. Not only are you wasting your time, you’re wasting your client’s time. I would rather wait until something happens beyond your control, and deal with it then. There’s no reason to intentionally mess something up, then go and lie to your clients and see how they’d react.”
  • Put yourself in the middle of other situations of failure, even if just mentally. Role play with a family member or close friend. It sounds cornball, but it makes a difference – it helps your brain build the neural pathways that bridge the gap between what could go wrong, and how you’ll react if it does. The best sales trainers in the world role play, role play, role play, with their proteges before they call on their first client. Give yourself the benefit of that same preparation.
  • Brainstorm session: Get out your paper and pencil, and make a list of ways you could screw up a photo shoot, from forgetting the shoot completely to accidentally formatting your memory card. Get it all out of your system, every last spoken and unspoken fear. Now make a list of ways you’ll deal with each of these failures if they occur. And last, make a list of ways you can prevent these failures from occurring. This act alone should purge you of the majority of the fear that’s holding you back. File this away in your Brainstorms folder.
  • My writing at PartTimePhoto.com exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I appreciate and welcome your readership, and invite you to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter at the top of any page of this site.
  • If anything in this post has spoken to and inspired you, please comment below, drop me an e-mail, or call or text me at 830-688-1564 and let me know. I’d love to hear how you use these ideas to better your part time photography business!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcelo January 18, 2013 at 6:43 am

Thank you for the information! It’s certainly the boost one needs to open your own business. One can even apply this to situations that occur in life and at work.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 12:33 am

Thank you for your readership and kind words Marcelo! Many times, what works in business, works in life. Passion and perseverance can take you very, very far.

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Jason January 18, 2013 at 11:39 pm

This blog past gave me so much confidence!!!

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 12:59 am

That’s awesome! Thank you for your readership Jason! Please do let me know how that confidence serves you in 2013!

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Ann January 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I have thought about doing pet photography since 1999. But scared to death, people will think its not good enough. And if I did do this not sure what to charge. I don’t want to be so expensive no one can afford it, but just make enough to cover expense and then a little more.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 1:22 am

Thank you for your comment and readership Ann! Pet Photography is so much fun. Your comment reminds me of the saying, “A year from now, you’ll wish you’d started today.”

That’s really what a whole lot of PTP is about – breaking that seemingly massive, impenetrable wall that is “going pro.” The industry has done a great job of making folks think it’s too hard, too much trouble, too risky, too little in your control. And that’s all horsesh*t.

I won’t say doing part time professional photography is easy – if you’re breezing along, you’re probably not as invested in serving your clients with your very best as you should be – but it’s nowhere near impossible. We’re talking about starting a small, part time business, not moonwalking across a bed of lava.

Here are some truths that, if you accept them, will free you:

– People will not think your work is good enough. Period. You could be the best pet photographer in the world, and there will be plenty of folks who say your work is amateur crap. You will always have haters and detractors. But those people don’t count. Your clients count. And so long as you’re marketing yourself with your work, so long as what you show clients you can do is what you can, indeed, do with some regularity, then the only people who will book with you in the first place are the ones who like what you do. Everyone else can find someone else to photograph their pet, and that’s perfectly okay. Perfectionism has killed – absolutely killed – so many artists who could have been incredible blessings to their communities if they’d only let go of that fear.

– Charge what you want. Charge too much. Charge too little. Charge a session fee and give away the photos. Charge no session fee and sell the photos. Sell only digital. Sell only prints. Ann, truly, it doesn’t matter. There’s a market out there for almost any conceivable permutation of the pricing schedule and a way to make it profitable. My recommended pricing (no session fee, prints and files starting at just $10) is bold-faced simplicity. It probably undervalues the work of almost every artist who adopts it. But what is of vast importance is that it gets people moving, it gets photographers past the again seemingly huge wall of “what do I charge?” Begin humbly, as an artist, and as a professional. Growth, in art, in business, and thus in value, and pricing, is inevitable. Just keep moving forward.

– There will always be someone better than you. There’ll always be someone worse. But you only get better by doing. Aristotle had this down ages ago: “For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing.” “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

You deserve the blessing of a creative outlet. You and your family deserve the blessings of owning a profitable small business. Your clients deserve the blessing of the art and experience you’ll create for them.

It’s time to get started.

I hope this helps! Thank you again for your comment and readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

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Erin April 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Sorry but this is REALLY bad advice: “Charge what you want. Charge too much. Charge too little. Charge a session fee and give away the photos. Charge no session fee and sell the photos. Sell only digital. Sell only prints. Ann, truly, it doesn’t matter. There’s a market out there for almost any conceivable permutation of the pricing schedule and a way to make it profitable. My recommended pricing (no session fee, prints and files starting at just $10) is bold-faced simplicity. ”

If people do this they will LOSE money and go out of business within a year. Please budding photographers, if you want to do this as a part time BUSINESS take a business class. It will save you tons of frustration.

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Erin April 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm

(not trying to be rude, it’s just you don’t realize photography is a business and people will not stay in business if they don’t learn how to run one. I think you’re doing your reader a disservice).

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Thank you again for your comments Erin – I am glad to have your perspective for PTP readers to consider! You are not rude at all, and I always welcome your input, as do my readers I am sure.

I am very much so a learn-by-doing kind of guy, and I know that rubs many established professional photographers the wrong way – any trip to the professional photography forums online yields a collective wail against the flood of newly-minted professionals entering the market.

PTP exists as a positive, encouraging, Just Do It resource for amateur photographers making the transition to paid professionals. I know full well that the advice I give, and the scrappy, bootstrapping, hustling attitudes of those it is intended for, ruffle the feathers of many established pros. On these matters, it will be rare that my perspective and writings sit well with those photographers. I think it is clear that my writings are not intended for them.

That said, always, I welcome diverse perspectives, and healthy, respectful discussion. Would you be open to my e-mailing you to visit about your experience in the industry – how you got started, what preparations you undertook before going pro, and such? Your story may be a great one for ProAm photographers like my readers to hear as another of the many paths to becoming a professional photographer.

Thank you again for your comments Erin!

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Thank you for your comment Erin! Diverse perspectives are always welcome here.

Business classes are surely a valuable resource for those with the opportunity to take them. I would never advise against educational opportunities.

However, I must contend: I have tested all the popular pricing schedules, and the one that has realized me both the highest volume of clients and the highest profit is no session fee, no minimum order, and prints and files starting at a humble price.

The only years my business has lost money were in the first two years when I had lens envy and camera lust, and spent way too much on gear I didn’t even know how to use (based on the advice of the Internet grognards that say you must do X, Y, Z to be a professional); and when I attempted to open a retail studio and got no new business from the strip mall location.

And this is why I now advise part time photographers against both mentalities: you do not need expensive equipment to shoot professional-quality photos, and you do not need to be more than a good location photographer to run a profitable and enjoyable business.

I have been a professional photographer for 14 years, and my experience factually refutes your blanket statement. There is not one piece of advice I give on PTP that does not come from my own personal experience in this industry.

That said, as I write often here on PTP, every photographer is going to have a different experience, and a different income level from their work that makes them comfortable – perhaps even giddy. What I value my hourly time at is likely quite different from you, or a photographer in New York, or a photographer in Malaysia. We all have different backgrounds, talents, experience, and markets within which we serve – my recommendations are a starting point, from which any photographer can build their business.

I mean no disrespect, and truly, I welcome your candor and your readership – but I cannot abide blanket statements that I know from experience to be untrue.

Thank you again for your honesty!

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Hiep Bui Photography January 23, 2013 at 11:28 am

I just stumbled on this site and began reading this post. I think it has some good points, but the following advice is just horrible:

“Want a trial by fire? Book a photo shoot. Do the photo shoot. Then go home, and delete the photo shoot.”

Purposefully screwing something up to “test” out different ways to deal with it is just wrong. Not only are you wasting your time, you’re wasting your client’s time. I would rather wait to something happens beyond your control, and then deal with it then. There’s no reason to intentionally mess something up, then go and lie to your clients and see how they’d react.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 1:53 am

Thank you for your comment and readership Hiep! I appreciate you bringing another perspective to the conversation!

My “trial by fire” advice is aimed squarely at photographers who are stuck, paralyzed by the fear of doing something wrong. The monster under the bed is always scariest in the dark, because we often fear most what we don’t understand – what we can’t give a form, shape, face, boundaries to.

Almost every pro-am photographer I meet is scared to death of something. They’re scared of picking the wrong name for their business. They’re scared their camera doesn’t have enough megapixels. They’re scared people will laugh at them. They’re scared they will completely blow a photo shoot and be branded an artless dolt by their market. They’re scared of charging too much. They’re scared of charging too little.

I’m scared, too. I’m scared of learning to swim a few decades after I should have. I’m scared of working out too hard too soon and injuring myself before I make any progress. I’m scared of how easily I become impatient with my kids when I’m getting them ready for school in the morning and I’m still half asleep.

What I have the blessing of knowing, having failed so very many times in life, is that you fail forward – and the faster you fail forward, the sooner you learn what not to do, and you get one step closer to doing the right things.

Is my first suggestion that a photographer go out and blow a shoot on purpose? Not at all. Do I think every photographer should purposely blow a shoot just for the experience? Definitely not – only a fraction of budding professional photographers are paralyzed by that specific fear.

(April 29, 2013 update: See my updated commentary in the Next Steps section of this article.) But if you’re stuck on it, and you can’t shake it, and you’re spending all your time worrying about that one fear, and all this time you could have been growing your art and business and blessing clients with your work, if you could just break that one fear?

Definitely. Do it. Book it, shoot it, and format that card right there in the camera. It’s bad medicine, but if it cures what ails you, if this is what you have to do one time to free yourself to create art for hundreds or thousands of clients over your lifetime? Pay that toll, and the sooner the better. Turn on the lights, throw yourself under the bed, and look with both eyes – there’s no monster there to fear after all.

I’m glad you challenged my statement, and I’m going to add some more verbiage to ensure folks understand that this trial by fire isn’t for everyone – only a select few. I hadn’t considered others might see this advice to be generic and equally applicable to all.

Thank you again Hiep! I greatly enjoyed visiting your portfolio tonight – you do absolutely beautiful work! Your clients are blessed to work with you.

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Hiep Bui Photography February 21, 2013 at 8:29 am

Thanks James for the clarifying up your post! Much appreciated =)

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Jason April 29, 2013 at 1:21 am

I’m sorry, but as somebody who feels that time is one of my most valuable assets, I can’t tell you how incredibly selfish it would be to those clients to actually do that just so you can get over a fear. When I work with my clients, they’re spending time with me that they might otherwise be spending with their family, working, or otherwise doing something they enjoy. They’re trusting me to not be screwing around with their time.

I loved this article as a whole and think that you’re spot-on overall with your message, but this particular bit of advice is terrible. Besides… coming from somebody who seems to be perpetually a victim of Murphy’s Law, the opportunity to redeem yourself from a failure will probably come around soon enough if it hasn’t already 🙂

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2013 at 10:33 am

Thank you for your comment Jason! No need to apologize. I’ve taken yours, Hiep, and Amy’s good advice and changed the article to strike this piece of advice from the list of Next Steps. I appreciate your honesty and your readership!

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Smith January 24, 2013 at 11:16 am

This post really opened my eyes; Without risk, there is no reward! I always second guess myself and tend to not try/do something because I’m afraid of the failure aspect of it… Why? Failure = Opportunity – why don’t they teach this in more places 🙂 I must admit, setting myself up for failure does NOT sound like something I would do but that will help me get over it WHEN it actually DOES happen… cause it will.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 2:18 am

Thank you for your comment and readership Smith!

I wish I could put my finger on exactly where and why Failure (with a capital F!) is such a fear-inducing threat to we human beings. It might be genetic. It might be how we were raised. It might be what public schooling taught us. It’s probably a far more complicated mixture of ingredients. But when I realized that failure is our friend, that failure is not just a prerequisite to success but an integral part of it, my progress as a professional (hell, as a person!) multiplied its pace.

That’s what a whole lot of PTP is about: moving forward. Progress. Kaizen, small daily improvements that lead to amazing change over time. We’re all scared of something, and attacking those fears at their roots is how we blow through them (often via glorious failure) and find the success on the far side of it.

I absolutely love the question: “What would you do today if you weren’t scared?”

It engages the creative mind in a most beautiful, freeing, empowering way. It takes us from possibilities to actualities, a posse ad esse.

Thank you again Smith! Please do keep me posted on your progress and adventures!

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Shelly February 12, 2013 at 2:07 am

Thank you for taking the time to write. I stumbled across your site by complete accident and have been completely absorbed for the last two hours. Your creativity and conviction is truly inspirational.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 2:50 am

Thank you for your kind words and readership Shelly! I truly wish I had more time to invest in PTP, it’s been such a blessing for me, and I’m always glad to hear that it’s helping great folks like yourself.

Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

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Pulane February 13, 2013 at 6:47 am

Hello Outlaw!!

I wanted to drop in quickly and let you know that you have a fan in ME and I’m all the way on the southern tip of Africa!!!

For the longest time, I have been thinking about this profession and every time the cost of equipment would discourage me until I bumped into your blog online and now i’m building my portfolio using what I have! Its on its way. Perhaps the next time I comment, there will be a link to a blog as well!!

I appreciate you and your spirit. Thank you very much for doing what you do.

Regards,
Pulane

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 2:52 am

Thank you for your kind words and your readership Pulane! I truly appreciate it!

Please do share that link to your blog with me when you have it up – I can’t wait to see what great art you’re creating there in Africa! Start where you are and grow from there, it’s the only way to do it, and you’ve got an awesome attitude with which to bless your clients!

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Pulane April 10, 2013 at 4:54 am

Hello James,

I have since uploaded some pics on tumblr (since this chat). Let me know what you think.

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Angela February 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

After years of dreaming about starting my own photography business, this past Saturday I felt inspired and decided on a whim, “Thats it! I am going for it!” I picked a name and have a head full of ideas and things I need to look up and I found this site, and I am so thankful! Such great information to help me get started!

Angela

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 21, 2013 at 2:53 am

Thank you for your kind words and readership Angela! I’m so glad you’re taking the plunge into professional photography – if you have years of passion built up inside you, you’re going to come out of the gate with a thunder. Just keep it moving forward, wherever you want to be as an artist and businesswoman, you’ll get there. Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

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Michael Curtin April 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I have to say that upon reading this article and some of your others this is one of the best Photography blogs for starting out photographers and even artists I have read in a long time. Your writing is very sincere and logical and this article in particular describes me to a T. I know that I have the ability and the talent to be a successful photographer but I am fearful of taking the leap. Even at my day job I am afraid of failure.

I think this article has really affirmed what I in reality knew all along and that is that failure is a learning process, and that my fear is more of other people’s reactions to my failures. When really I shouldn’t worry about what others are thinking as long as I do the right thing when I do fail.

So again; absolutely superb article and blog. Keep up the great writing.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor May 28, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Thank you so much for your comment and kind words, Michael! And what beautiful art you make – really enjoyed visiting your portfolio tonight.

You hit the nail on the head, sir – failure, fear, humility, excitement, inspiration, motivation, creative need, creative satisfaction, hunger for attention, fear of attention – they’re all tools to help you learn, grow, better your art, and better your business. We artists are particularly susceptible to our feelings – both blessing and curse, we are deeply in tune with our selves, but that also means we feel a winding rollercoaster’s worth of emotions. Our lizard brains love nothing more than to keep up “safe,” lost in the middle, in our comfort zone, and as artists, bored out of our minds.

It has always helped me to focus my concerns outward, instead of inward, when fear or hesitation strike. Instead of “What will the world think of me if I put my art and business out there?”, I try to ask, “Who can I help if I put my art and business out there?” That is one of the keys to unlock success, and even happiness, as a professional photographer: to recognize that the work you do is as much a blessing to your clients, your community, and your family, as it is to you as an artist.

Thank you again for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures.

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CJ Mohommed April 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I’m a photographer. Not a professional photographer mind you. A photographer. What that means to me, is that I enjoy the moment! Each image that I capture is a moment that I can exist within for what seems an eternity of peace, solitude and serenity. Even if that moment is actually only a fraction of a second. Whether I am capturing sporting events, nature, family or friends, photography is my “Gone Fishing” equivalent.
I came across your site while searching for ‘part time photographers’. Your blog is exceptionally well put together and your insight is inspiring. I will certainly be recommending this site to my network. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor May 28, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thank you for your comment, Christopher! I greatly enjoyed visiting your portfolio tonight – you take a wonderful variety of photos!

Thank you for sharing PTP with your network – I hope the site is bringing a fresh, encouraging, actionable voice to the online photography community. I truly appreciate your readership!

Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures.

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Certified Professional Photographer April 29, 2013 at 8:58 am

Baby falling onto the floor? If that was my baby, you’d be in a lawsuit fighting to keep every last asset you own. As a certified professional who has also been in business for many, many years, I’m shocked by your list of mistakes. Nobody should be in business until they know how to take precautions against any of this happening. The mistakes you’ve listed are NOT mistakes professionals make. They are mistakes amateurs make, and as a client of photography as well, I’m appalled by the lack of professionalism out there by people taking money for their incompetency. Advising your readers to purposely screw over a client even more? Well, that IS a good way to get the masses of amateurs posing as professionals to quit…it’ll get them sued in the process. The best advice you could give your readers is to become an actual professional before ever hanging a shingle and taking clients. Tell them to go work for real pros where their work and progress can be monitored so as not to affect any clients.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2013 at 10:42 am

Thank you for your comment Amy! Diverse perspectives are always welcome here.

I obviously am a proponent of Ready, Fire!, Aim small business development – allowing experience to be the teacher.

When I started out, I was thrown straight into the fire from the cupboard and skipped the frying pan entirely. I bought my own camera in high school, and photographed friends for fun. I landed a job as a sports writer and photographer with my hometown newspaper in my sophomore year, and as soon as my photos began showing up in the newspaper, I had families (usually of athletes) asking if I did family and senior photos. I had no idea what I was doing – and over the last 14 years, I’ve made innumerable mistakes – but everything I know I learned by doing.

There are as many paths to professional photography as there are professional photographers – college, apprenticeship as you recommend, self-study, diving into the deep end, and countless permutations.

Thank you again for adding your voice to the conversation Amy – I appreciate your readership and your candor!

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Erin April 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm

But seriously, don’t tell people it’s ‘okay’ if the infant rolls off the table… it’s NOT. It’s not even an amateur mistake. Amateurs should not be photographing babies. Why are you listing an injured infant along with a deleted memory card? They are in no way similar mistakes… if you, as a photographer allow a child to be in danger due to your incompetence it’s time to stop taking other people’s money and just take photos of flowers as a hobby.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Thank you for your comment Erin – advice like yours is the reason I added the caveat to that line, about having a bevy of blankets as a safety net around the baby. Needless to say, I (nor any reasonable photographer I know) would prop a baby up in a precarious position knowing they could at any moment push or roll and suffer injury. I apologize if my tone with that comment was cavalier.

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Michelle June 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm

i think most of us get it.

thank you for your all of your hard work. i’m considering making the leap to professional and finding this site will make by decision easier. thank you.

Anthony Petit June 2, 2013 at 10:22 am

Thank you for having this site: It has been invaluable to my opening the last gate to starting my business. I found this “fear” article resonant with something I posted on FB recently:

So few succeed because we are all taught to fear failure.
And:
Failure is what we are taught to expect, but we are not taught how to handle failure.
While:
Success is lauded, but we are not taught how to handle success.

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor July 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Anthony, thank you so much for your kind words and your comment! I’m so glad you’re enjoying PTP.

You hit right on it sir – recognizing, welcoming, and understanding the opportunity in failure is the exact opposite of what we are taught by our parents, by our schools, by society. But for great parents, teachers, and professors, we never know better until we make that break-through ourselves.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through writing on PTP, it’s that folks have plenty of reserve – what they need is encouragement. In whatever way I can, it’s a blessing to me to give all the encouragement I can.

Thank you again for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

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Outlaw Photographer James Taylor July 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Michelle, thank you for your kind words and readership! Your work will be a blessing for your clients and community. If there’s anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to let me know! And please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

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