I recently watched the WPPI keynote speech by the famed portrait photographer Sue Bryce, who is as well known for her hugely articulate passion in teaching others as she is for her gorgeous female portrait images. If you haven’t seen the keynote speech, it’s well worth taking a look at (as are Sue’s education site, which is an absolute treasure trove of information for all kinds of professional photographers).
One part of Sue’s speech really made me think. She was primarily talking about selling; how to value yourself, how to value what you do, how to ensure your clients value what you offer. There was one part of this speech which particularly resonated with me, as she was discussing how many wedding photographers get tired of slogging their guts out on wedding after wedding shoot and want to make the move to shooting portraits. But they’re afraid. How do they attract portrait clients when they are wedding photographers? How do they make the transition without killing their business? And how do they work less for more money?
These are all questions that Sue covers eloquently and insightfully, but the part of this which made me think was THIS. (It’s massively paraphrased, so see the original for the best version). She took the example of a wedding photographer who was no longer enjoying shooting weddings but knew they had to keep the money coming in. That wedding photographer is sitting there thinking, ‘I need to shoot three weddings a month to pay my bills’. So, there’s a higher power up there who hears this, and there you are, that photographer wished for three weddings a month, and they got them.
Then, that photographer thinks, ‘oh, but I HATE shooting weddings, I’m so tired of it!’.
The Higher Power goes, ok, in that case if you don’t want to shoot them, I’ll take them away. You’ll be happier then, right?
Photographer: Argh! I don’t have any weddings! I need to earn some money!
Higher Power: ‘Er, well, I thought you didn’t want to shoot weddings, but if you want, then ok, here’s two back’.
Photographer, ‘Phew, I have some weddings! Oh, but I wish I was shooting portraits instead….
Higher Power: What? You don’t want weddings? Hang on, what DO you want, because I have no idea!…..
And so it goes on.
The point is this. You may or may not believe in a Higher Power, and that bit doesn’t actually matter. What you have to believe in is YOU. If you aren’t clear about what you want and what your goals are, then how can you expect anyone else to know? And if you aren’t sure about what you’re doing, how can you expect your clients to value you – no matter what genre of photography you’re shooting?
We don’t always get up every morning with a crystal clear vision of where we want our photography business to be. But, we do have to spend time thinking about where we’re heading – and be entirely committed to it. If you don’t commit to your photography goals you have very little chance of achieving them. It comes back to belief in yourself. Believe you can, and you’ll do everything in your power to make that happen. You’ll train harder, work harder, shoot with a more creative eye, because you KNOW you can do it. Positive thinking and self belief changes our entire vision of the world and what we are able to give to it. By believing in ourselves, others will believe in us, too.
We can’t all just decide to believe we can be the best portrait or wedding photographer in Dorset, in the UK, in the world. But you CAN decide to believe you can run a successful business and be the absolute best you can be.
And, if you think that you can’t do that kind of self belief and you don’t know how to get your business onto a successful level, I can think of no better person to help you than Sue Bryce. Go and visit her Education site and see how life changing her online tuition can be. You’ll see someone who, by the absolute passion she has for her business and her clients, can inspire and educate you to achieve so much you never thought you could. Go on, go look!