This is episode ten in our series on “how to become a professional photographer“, and this time we’re going to think about our business attitude and how having a positive business attitude can really help us succeed in the photography business, even when we might feel we lack some of the aptitude.
Today, instead of ending with a thought for the day, I’m going to start with one. In fact, it’s in the subject line, but it’s well worth repeating:
This philosophy of maintaining a healthy business attitude is so important to your success, and it’s one that trips up so many people, including Bob the photographer, whom we met at the beginning of our journey.
If you go back to “Selling Your Camera Is No Way To Make Money” and read Bob’s story again, but this time with all the knowledge you’ve learned so far, you’ll notice subtle clues that point to his deteriorating attitude as time went by, and which ultimately led to him having to give up in his business.
Even with all the best business tactics and marketing strategies in the world, no one can hope to sustain a successful business for very long with a poor business attitude. I would even go as far as to say that it’s your number one asset.
Success Requires Determination & Persistence
Success is not normal – in fact, it’s well known that most businesses fail. It therefore stands to reason that building and running a thriving business can be a real challenge, with new battles to fight each and every day. The ability to think on one’s feet is definitely a good thing to have!
However, the fight can become mundane, difficult, frustrating, and often quite daunting. A natural by-product of this is occasionally suffering various degrees of such feelings as despair, depression, hopelessness, lack of self-worth, fear, doubt or worry…
It’s by no means a sign of weakness to feel any of these things if you’re struggling to overcome obstacles or being affected by blind spots in your business.
However, we must realize that these can be our mortal enemies in business and any indulgence in them should be avoided at all costs, no matter how dire our situation might seem.
If you take the time to study in detail almost any successful person, one factor that stands out in every case is that they did not become successful overnight. There were many challenges, battles, obstacles, and apparent failures along the way.
One big difference that set these people apart from the failures is the simple fact that they refused to surrender.
By the way, there are some other posts on the blog that deal with this topic in more detail:
- Photography Coach Tip: Failure Is Guaranteed & Essential For Success
- Photography Success Secret #1: Eliminate Negativity
- Business Success Starts With How You Think
Start With Your Daily Attitude
Today’s main topic, though, is in how we conduct ourselves each and every day, and specifically the mental attitude we bring to the creative process and the photography session.
Our approach and attitude has a huge effect on future sales, and even the outcome of the session itself.
For example, the scheduled portrait day arrives and you show up at the agreed-upon time. The weather is awesome, everyone is (almost) happy to be there, and even their pet dog seems to be okay with it all.
But then the fun really starts. The baby awakens from her nap with a scream when her sister pokes her in the eye; the dog takes off into the woods after a squirrel, and dad’s not pleased because he had better things to do that day, especially as he only found out about this the night before…
Under these conditions, it can be hard to keep all those emotions in check – the worry about getting the shots you want, whether the light will last, finding suitable settings, worrying about all the other things that could go wrong, and probably will.
Business Attitude Is A Conscious Choice
Some professional photographers might prefer the nightmare of actual business suicide to having to live this particular fantasy, but real business suicide is still an option, especially if we fall into any of these little snares:
- Cursing or blaspheming, even quietly…
- Beating up the assistant (verbally or otherwise)…
- Demonstrating impatience with uncooperative subjects…
- Trying to rush things just to get it over with…
- Failing to take control…
- Not smiling, despite the horror of it all!
You might think these are a little extreme, or find it hard to imagine these actually happening, but I’ve seen all of them and worse, believe me!
It really doesn’t matter how badly behaved the kids are, how uncooperative people might be, or even if their dog thinks your tripod is a convenient restroom, you can’t afford the luxury of getting angry, annoyed, or even slightly irritated.
To do so would send any chance of making a sale up in smoke.
It’s Worth The Effort!
I know it can be easier said than done sometimes, and you may believe I’m stating the obvious, but you’d be amazed how many professional photographers fall foul of this one. I’ve seen assistants get yelled at, photographers with really bad tempers, uncooperative children being shouted at by the photographer, and general overall grumpiness.
Now I’m not suggesting that you’re doing any of these things, but I do believe we have to make an effort to be so stellar and positive, no matter the circumstances, that the clients believe we’re almost saint-like!
I’m quite sure your photography sessions are not like any of those described here, so you’ll be glad that I’m not going to prescribe an attitude adjustment for you!
One thing you can do, though, is think of some ways to enhance the positive experience of your clients even further. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute, and ask yourself the question, “What would make this experience so amazing that I couldn’t wait to tell me friends about it!”
For example, how about a simple gift card to a local restaurant that the whole family can go to after their session to relax? Little unexpected treats for the kids during and after the session? How about something cool for the parents?
It doesn’t have to be a lot – anything at all is bound to be appreciated.
BONUS: Interview With Sean Low – Mindset, Trust & Value
As a special bonus, here’s a video presentation of an interview I recorded with Sean Low, in which we talk about the importance of business attitude to a successful business and how it relates specifically to the business of being creative:
Take The Next Step: Photography Business Mentoring
Sometimes, we can feel that we’re the only ones experiencing problems in our photography business, but you’re not on your own! I understand the complex challenges facing professional photographers, just like you. Get the simple marketing answers you need, when you need them, to help you save valuable time and money AND get you on the right path faster.
Focus on the photography you love and waste less time worrying about marketing with the Zenologue “Prime Focus” Prime Focus Photography Mentoring program.
Having gotten through the photography session, we need our valued clients to actually invest in something! Selling your photography to your clients can be a minefield, so tune in to the next article for some tips on photography sales.