9 practices to increase your productivity as a professional photographer

December 14, 2015
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There are a smidge over 85 million productivity tips on the Internet.

(I Googled, just to be sure.)

There’s a trap here:

When confronted with overwhelming options, what do our brains do?


We lose focus, we lose inspiration, and we fall back on routine.

“What got you here won’t get you there.” – Marshall Goldsmith

Success boiled down to its most base practice becomes habit. What we do daily lays stone in the foundation of our dreams.

When I asked you awesome PTP readers to describe what’s holding you back, Time was well behind Confidence and a step ahead of Money.

My Identity course for photographers (launching Dec. 12!) is built from the ground up to give you the tools you need to overcome the limiting beliefs hurting your Confidence and holding you back from launching your photography business. If you’re not already getting my e-mails, subscribe at the top-right of any page on this site to get my best stories and ideas delivered to your Inbox.

To help with Time, I sat down and identified the 7 most powerful practices I employ daily to enjoy peace and productivity while balancing family, friends, day job, photography, business, writing, coaching, and re-creation.

Kicking off this seven-week series with practice numero uno:

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Is photography really 90% business and 10% art?

November 30, 2015
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“You all laugh at me because I’m different, I laugh at you because you’re all the same.” ― John Davis

All the business gurus will tell you: success comes with knowing and communicating your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).

But, as a visual artist, you look at your value from a solely visual perspective:

“My art looks just like that guy’s over there. And it sure as heck doesn’t look as good as this guy. I love his work. I look at my work and get so discouraged. How can I pretend to be a professional photographer? Why would anyone pay for my work?”

Why are you valuable?

That’s a powerful, priceless question.

I know you’ve heard the line that the photography business is 10 percent photography and 90 percent business.

There’s some truth to that. And some untruth.

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The no-affiliate-link, no horsesh*t guide to Black Friday for photographers

November 27, 2015
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I was showering this morning (you’re welcome!), and as I am wont to do, I was brainstorming ideas to help you guys make more art and more money with more comfort and confidence.

Confession time:

I’m about as anti-marketing-BS as anyone, but even I couldn’t resist loading SlickDeals last night to see what was hot for Black Friday.

Like any red-blooded professional photographer, I lusted over a few deals that would be so sexy for my business. Laptops, tablets, big TVs (for proofing sessions, of course!), and always, cameras and lenses and kit.

Sugarplum primes danced in my head.

Then I remembered a couple e-mails I got from respected photogurus yesterday, both Black Friday buying guides, and both having almost all the same affiliate programs featured.

Affiliate programs let people with an audience (authors, bloggers, celebrities, thought leaders) sell someone else’s stuff and get a commission. Sometimes a percent or two, sometimes 50 percent or more.

Many of the products and services on offer in these e-mails, I’d never heard of before. Some, such as online proofing and sales sites, fly in the face of what’s become the best practice of in-person sales (IPS). This struck a bad chord with me.

Listen, I know you’ve got your wallets out and those credit cards aren’t going to swipe themselves…

But hear me out:


Just for a moment.

Break the FOMO pattern (fear of missing out) that makes Black Friday so gratifying, exciting, and “fun.”

Recognize: You have everything you need.

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This five-minute practice will change your story

November 26, 2015
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“Five minutes are enough to dream a whole life, that is how relative time is.” – Mario Benedetti

I used to block off a minimum of four hours to get anything creative done on my passion projects.

Guess how much I got done that way?

Holidays were my only friend. When I woke up on a weekday and didn’t have to go to work, I’d be so dumbfounded that I actually spent some time working on my dreams. About four to eight times a year, I’d actually get something done that took me closer to the art, business, and life I wanted.

I thought this was the only way to work creatively.

Then I learned about kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of small daily improvements enabling awesome change over time.

But I didn’t truly practice kaizen until I was enlightened to the possibility held within just five minutes.

What are five minutes worth?

Five minutes a day translates to over 30 hours a year.

The Resistance convinces us that if we can’t get those 30 hours in a row, or spread over just a few days, that the time is worthless. So why bother taking small, daily actions?

The Resistance is incredulous:

“Five minutes a day? That’s stupid; what can I get done in just five minutes? I won’t get anything good done so I’m not even going to bother.”

The Hustler is challenged:

“Five minutes? If that’s all I’ve got, I’ll get more done in those five minutes than most people do in an hour.”

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Climbing the mountain of success – Part IV: Next

October 24, 2015
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Image by Trekking Rinjani, https://www.flickr.com/photos/trekkingrinjani/
CCBY-SA2.0 (desaturated, contrast)

(Climbing the mountain of success – Part I)

(Climbing the mountain of success – Part II: The Dip)

(Climbing the mountain of success – Part III: Quitter)

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” – Robert Hughes

Welcome to the top.

You’ve survived The Dip – the long slog of steady, incremental, sometimes imperceptible gains found in the messy middle of any journey.

You’ve made it through the forest, and again you can see the light. You’ve made a breakthrough, and you can see that if you just keep doing the work, you’ll reach the top of this mountain – you’ll achieve the success you dreamed of.

Conquering the forest is all about persistence in the face of not knowing what lies ahead; about making best guesses and remaining tenaciously driven to pursue your goal.

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Climbing the mountain of success – Part III: Quitter

October 12, 2015
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Image by Jorge Armando Garcia Galvez, www.flickr.com/photos/jgarciagalvez/
CCBY-SA2.0 (desaturated, contrast, crop)

(Climbing the mountain of success – Part I)

(Climbing the mountain of success – Part II: The Dip)

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” — Bruce Lee

All doubt is gone: this was a bad idea.

You haven’t seen a break in the forest in ages. You just keep doing…things. You don’t know if you’re getting any closer to the top of the mountain or not. You keep trying. But there’s no payoff, no tangible wins.

You feel like you’ve been going in circles forever, getting nowhere, with a great deal of energy and heart expended to get there.

You’ve disappointed yourself. You’ve done your best, and come up short. You’re not where you want to be, you’ve no idea how to get there, and quitting feels so, so much like the only option left.

Why can’t I figure out which way is the right way? Why is this so hard? Why did I do this in the first place?

By now you’re having this dialog out loud with yourself, with the forest, with God and every creature near enough to hear.

You beg the universe for a sign – permission to quit the journey and throw this dream in the trash (where it probably belongs). You desperately just want to give up and go home. You’ve peaked. You’ve lost. Game over. You’ve gone farther than you thought you could, but you’ve hit a wall you can’t get around. You’re not as good as you thought you could be.

The obstacle is bigger than your belief.

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Climbing the mountain of success – Part II: The Dip

October 1, 2015
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Image by ThreeIfByBike, www.flickr.com/photos/three_if_by_bike/ CCBY-SA2.0 (desaturated)

(Climbing the mountain of success – Part I)

“Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.” — Viktor Frankl

What’s truly harder: quitting and turning back, or committing and driving forward?

Striding boldly into the forest that separates you from your dream at the top of the mountain, you are emboldened by your own bravery, and a not insignificant dose of adrenaline.

Step after step, you’ve launched into your journey. You’re in it, now: you’re carving your own path up the mountain.

Your progress is steady. It feels good. You’re proud. You feel strong. You’ve got a backpack full of tools, and you know how to use them…at least you hope so.

Progress feels good.

Then you start to get sore. Then tired. Then sweaty, itchy, almost hyper-sensitive. Hunger and exhaustion set in.

Night is coming.

It’s going to be long and low.

This isn’t so fun anymore. It isn’t so easy. The biggest challenge is no longer just making the decision to climb the mountain – now, it’s work. Honest work, but the kind of effort you’re not used to in your ‘normal’ life. You don’t feel able. In fact, you feel pretty clumsy, well outside your comfort zone.

Nothing worth doing is easy,” you repeat to yourself. You’re right, but it doesn’t help much.

Every time the path gets muddy and the way forward is too dark and hazy to see, quitting seems so easy.

Still, you feel your progress, and there’s enough newness and scariness and excitement that quitting doesn’t seem so… Necessary.

Give it time… Very soon, quitting will feel very, very necessary.

The first time you trip and twist your ankle…

The first time you stumble over some venomous or teeth-laden forest creature…

The first time you do something truly foolish, slap your forehead and say, “How the hell could I be so stupid!”

The Resistance is hunting you, haunting you, here in the forest. This is his playground, not yours. You are not home here. You are not welcome here.

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