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My Take On Avoidable Challenges In Professional Photography

This is my take on some of the things that Skip Cohen wrote in 14 Avoidable Challenges in Professional Photography.


I've pulled out 11 ( bundled two of them ) of the 14 points from the blog post that I noted at the top of this blog post. I'm going to write my own words on this topic which I hope you find helpful.

1) Stop being a gear hound. 
You don't have to buy the latest, greatest photography gear every time something new hits the market. It's true that gear can make a difference, but it's also true that gear can put you in a financial jam.

The person behind the camera is what matters. Will the gear really make you a better photographer?

Here are some questions to ask yourself before buying new gear?
1) Will the new piece of gear make me more money?
2) Is the new piece of gear a WANT or a NEED?
3) Can I truly take my work to the next level with a new piece of gear?
4) Am I doing my absolute best with the gear I currently own?
5) How often do I rent this piece of gear and is it better to own it?
6) Can I pay cash for a new piece of gear? How will that hinder my cash flow?
7) Realistically, being 100% honest, how long will it take to recoup a new gear purchase?

2) You’ve got a phone—why keep the number a mystery? 
I personally know a photographer that does amazing work that only has a form on his website and not his phone number. I think that is a mistake, but it's not my business.

How do you feel when you go to a website that only has a form on it and no phone number? How much business do you close by phone vs. email?

Yes, we are in the internet world of online communication, but I had still rather talk on the phone than email. One of the top compliments that I get on a regular basis is either answering my phone or how quick I return calls.

Does that mean I'm not busy? No, I am swamped most of the time, but the phone is my MONEY MAKER not email.

3) Got a listening disorder?
Although I feel like closing is one of my strong points, I'm willing to admit that I need to get better about this. It would likely help me close even more projects.

We all have two ears and one mouth which means that we should listen twice as much as we talk. The goal is to listen more to the client than talk about you. Yes, you have to sell yourself, but make sure you listen to what the client needs.

4) “There isn’t time to blog more often.”
As an avid blogger, I know personally how blogging can be. The bottom line is that consistency is key and there is no need to have a blog if you cannot post on it regularly.

Blogging is free, except for your time, and it can help with being found online. There are numerous benefits to blogging that outweigh not blogging. However, you must be consistent about your blogging.

Although many people say write at least two posts per week, I say that it's better to do 12 weeks in a row of once per week if that's what you can consistently maintain. At the end of a year, that's 52 blog posts if you can stay consistent with one per week.

5) Think quality, not quantity.
Like #3, this is another one that I need to work on, but I have started making progress recently on it.

It's better to have 20 of your top images in a gallery than 200 mediocre. So revisit the work you are sharing and try to only share your top images because quality beats quantity.

6) “I’m a natural light specialist.”
This one gets me and I know from training other photographers that many new photographers do not know how to use strobe lighting indoors or out.

Yes, natural light is beautiful. Yes, you can use natural light. BUT don't let “I’m a natural light specialist” be your reason for not learning how to use a speedlite (flash) and studio strobes. Most of the time, I believe the photographers saying this are saying it because they don't know how to properly use artificial lighting.

FYI, it can make a HUGE difference in your business and drive your revenue up.

7)  “I can’t afford backup gear.”
I am 100% with what Skip says on this one. Stop calling yourself a professional photographer if you don't have backup gear.

There are things that CANNOT be redone like a WEDDING. If you cannot afford to buy backup gear, then you must, not optional, rent backup gear if you are photographing things that can never be repeated.

Even if you are on an assignment that could be rescheduled due to gear failure, time is money and your client will likely not be very happy if you have to reschedule due to gear failure.

In my case, I travel all over the US and cannot be 1,000+ miles from home with no backup gear on a multi-day assignment.

Are you truly a professional or not? Professionals either own or rent back up gear. PERIOD!

8) “Yeah, I took all of those images.”
I've taught classes and have the lighting already setup. I photograph the model then let the student photograph the model. If the student cannot reproduce the lighting setup, the student should not put the work in his or her portfolio.

If you know lighting and/or can reproduce what you learned in a class that you shot images in, that's great. Just be sure you are not showing portfolio work that you would be hard pressed to reproduce.

9) “Let it go, let it go!” and I heard it through the grapevine.
I combined two of the 14 points in this one.

It's easy to get pulled in to online comments because there are so many that are outright DUMB. I will admit that I have and do read plenty of them, but I typically (95%+) stay out of the conversation. I'm too busy to get caught up in it all. It's really just a waste of time.

As a professional, you should stay away from rumors. It's not good business to get caught up in rumors. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I doubt you'd want anyone running you down and spreading rumors, so don't do it to others. It's just not good business.

10) “That’s good enough.”
The day that you say that all your work is good enough is the day that you stop growing as a photographer.

Don't be so overly critical of your work that you lose confidence. However, you should always strive to improve your photography and try new things.

Although clients may not be hiring you for the creative assignments that you want, you can and should do your own personal assignments to help you get to the next level and have new work in your portfolio.

The End!

Yes, I could write more and add even more avoidable things. However, I'll stop for now. Please use the social icons below to SHARE THIS and/or comment on this post.

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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.