How To Be Successful in Photography: The Rules

Being a successful photographer is actually has the same recipe as being successful in other professions. Steve McCurry, one of my inspiring photographer said: “to be success in photography, there are three important rules that we have to control and also some external factors that we must be cautious. The rules are: Quality, political skills, confidence and luck.

Previously we would have to define success. For some people, success has disparate meaning, but in general, success is having a happy and prosperous life without any lack and can actualize themselves, that mean maximizing potential within ourselves and doing what we like in our life.

success-photographerRule #1: Quality
It’s hard to imagine someone could be successful with poor quality products. Thus, we have to learn and hone both photography art and editing techniques. Sometimes, we did our best and feel our pictures were very nice, but the demand is depending on the viewers perception. Then some reviews from photo editors, experienced photographer and client/prospective buyers are also very important.

More and more people entering the world of photography due to the easy accessibility of the tools also the lines to learn photography, then every year the amount of photographer that entering realm of professional will increased many times. If there is no unique qualities in your work, it will be increasingly difficult to get client or just maintain existing job, because the reality is, if you have a thin disparate quality with the others, client will choose the lowest price that can be obtained.

Quality of perfect technique such as sharp images, vibrant colors and so on is certainly not enough and sometimes irrelevant. Technique quality must be integrated with art, and it’s really difficult to discuss the quality of art, because art itself something that can not be separated from the pros and cons. Some people maybe like your work, but most of the others would not. The trick is to find a client/buyer who likes your style, whether your photography techniques and/or digital art.

Rule #2: Political Skill
Politic is identical with some bad things, because the reputation of political world is full of tricks and harshness. But here, politic means quality of human relationships. Most of photography job that you got sometimes due to recommendations from people you know. If you are an unpleasant person is certainly difficult for other people to recommend you.

This rule is also about how smart you are in interacting with other people. Do you are an extrovert? If so, you got a plus point. An extroverted person is always comfortable interacting with other people and comfortable in crowded conditions. Moreover, more likely to cooperate with the team and many people. If you have good skills to interact with others, you will be able to get a lot of jobs and/or generate more profits.

Rule #3: Trust
Prospective clients will be wondering “Is this a reliable photographer?” If the answer is yes, then you pass this rule. Trust is also an important factor beside the two rules above. Actually, building a trustable company is not that easy, you have to work hard. The keys are consistency, realizing expectations and promises, and authenticity.

What I mean by consistency is how often and routine do you work. For example, I write this blog an average of two posts a week, and every day I check and reply to the questions posted in the comments box. The activity has become routine and habit for me, just in case I get sick or on a long photo shooting project, I wouldn’t have time to check the comments or write. Not hard for me to write, but it is difficult to sit down and start typing.

In the context of photography, how often do you shoot something? Either paid or not. By having a consistent time to photograph something, intuition will be increased and your photo quality is also better than before.

Most photographer are giving grandiose promises to the client and the fact, these promises are quiet easy but interesting. Promise is a debt that you have to pay and it will affect your career to the next future.

Most clients wouldn’t care about achievements, awards, or how many certificates you earn, but they more concerned about “What can I get from him” It is inevitable, most people just care about themselves and their needs. They wonder whether the photographer is able to work and meet their expectations or not. If the answer is no, then even though you are a very sociable and interesting, you wouldn’t get the job.

One more thing that I think not too complicated, but avoided by most of people is to be an authentic person. Simply, an authentic person realizes that he/she is not perfect, and doesn’t hesitate to open up to the others.

I think artists are likely to be successful is an authentic artist, they dare to be honest with other people about their strengths and weaknesses, it’s okay to get criticism or lack of like on facebook. They have very creative works and different from the standard rules favored by most people. In general, people will have more confidence to us if we are authentic because of honestly and openly.

Rule #4: Luck
The external factor that determine a person’s success is luck. Often people feel confident and successful because of their intelligence and good work, but in reality, the luck factor has a large enough portions that can jump-start or destroy your success. Most people become arrogant because they think their success is come from self intelligence whereas largely because of “luck.” In contrast, when they fails, most people blame ‘luck’ for their failure, not because of self quality.

A simple example, when we are going for hunting a landscape on summer, the sky is suddenly cloudy. But sometimes we are lucky got a nice weather on raining season.

Candid photography/documentation is also the same. There is the term of “decisive moment”. “The decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression”, (Henri Cartier-Bresson). It sometimes depends on photographer’s luck. If he is at the right position and bring a camera and lens that matches the situation, he will be able to capture the moment very well.

To tame the Luck factor, the most important to me is that we have to be ready mentally and try to do the best that we can. If there is a good chance, try to take the best possible chance.

Anyway, if we are weak in one or two rules, is still there a possibility to be successful? It could be, as long as we are very prominent in one rule. So thanks God, even though we are weak in one rule, we can strengthen the other rules to be success! Good luck.

By Duwi Mertiana