Fast Food Friday's are all about ideas to help you focus on the challenges of building a stronger business and making yourself habit-forming to your target audience. You're a working photographer, more than likely a right-brain creative type and more you probably hate the operational side of the business. So we started sharing ideas to help you through the challenges.
This week's special is a little different than many of the past, and it's all thanks to a good friend who recently sent me an IM on Facebook. He wrote,
After almost three decades I am switching gears. I'm headed back to school to get my MS in Instructional Design and Technology. Photography will be a plus as far as life experience. I immediately thought of you when I made this decision because of how successfully you have switched gears more than once.
Well, that got me thinking about how many of you hit the panic button when you think about changing paths. Some changes are significant in the form of full-blown career changes, others easier to handle, like expanding to another photographic specialty, etc.
In 2009 I made the biggest change in my career - inspired by many of you, I decided to head out on my own and start my own company. As I hesitated to take the plunge, Sheila asked me, "What are you afraid of?" My answer was immediate, "Failing!"
Sound familiar? So, I'm dedicating this week's lunch special to my best buddy, my wife, Sheila. She's my support group and has been there every minute of the way, now coming up on ten years. To quote Jerry Garcia, "What a long strange trip it's been!"
This is the time of year when so many of you start thinking about future changes. Let's see what the SCU kitchen can whip up to help you through the process.
Changing Paths as a Photographer
- Right now we're in the heat of seasonality, but that isn't going to stop any of you from the occasional day-dream about the new year. You might be busy, but new career fever comes whenever it's needed. Nothing is cast in concrete. Appreciate the fact that once you've learned the technique and your skill set is solid, you can move into just about any of the various specialties.
- Never give up on your dreams! Many of you have "Negators" in your life - associates, friends or even family who don't understand why you can't just be happy with what you're doing. Well, it's not their life, it's yours!
- Start thinking about what conventions you want to attend in 2019. Right out of the blocks you've got IUSA in Atlanta in January, WPPI in Las Vegas in February, ShutterFest in April and ClickCon in August. Plus there are a lot of state conventions sprinkled throughout the new year, especially in the first four months.
- At every convention you go to, attend at least two programs, entirely out of your comfort zone.
- When you're at a convention/conference, NEVER eat a meal alone. Use the time there to talk to other photographers.
- Look for partnerships in marketing and building a stronger business. From sharing office/studio space to splitting the cost of a direct mail piece, there are so many opportunities for you to reduce expenses and gain the benefits that come from partners.
- Give yourself daily assignments. For example, years ago my buddy, Michael Corsentino, was doing a self-portrait every morning and experimenting with moving his lights around. Today he's considered one of the leading educators on lighting. Another friend, Brian Palmer, gave himself a 365 project, photographing something different every day and then posting it.
- Read, Watch and Listen: There are books, videos and podcasts all over the place to help you expand your interests and smooth out the rough spots in your skill set. Just here at SCU alone, you've got links to great videos from Profoto and Tamron.
- Spend time with your network! At least a dozen times over the last few years I've talked about the importance of being involved in your local photographic community. You need to join the local chapter, guild or camera club and then attend their monthly meetings. Build relationships with other photographers, who often are dealing with the same challenges you're facing.
Stop beating yourself up for changing your mind. It's like going through my closet...I've got my fat clothes for when my weight is up and the thinner ones for when I'm trying to get in shape, but every day when I get dressed, I have to go with what fits! Okay, so as an analogy it's a stretch, no pun intended, but think about the passion you have for the craft and then let it take you in the direction that feels best.
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