Five things successful photographers don’t do

A few years ago, I made a YouTube video on this very topic. As we move toward the end of another year, I think it’s worth revisiting.

I’ve been in the photography business for over a decade. In that time, I learned a thing or two about how to run a successful photography business. In this piece, I thought I’d share some of those with you. Here are five things that I don’t do that have helped me be successful.

1. Don’t put just any photo on your website

You know the old expression, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ Nowhere is that more true than in today’s online world.

The first photo to appear on your website needs to have an impact, it needs to be the best of the best of your images. Every image after that has to have some kind of impact as well. Do you want to win clients? Your website images have to be awesome.

portrait of a girl in a dress don't post best photos


2. Don’t make your clients wait

I get it — you shouldn’t set an unreasonable expectation here. No one expects you to turn wedding images around in 24 hours. However, if you’re a portrait photographer, specifically professional portraits for business, if you want to make an impression, have proofs ready the same or no later than the next day.

To really shorten the cycle, try tethering. Word will get around about how quick and efficient you are.

3. Don’t make the mistake of asking other photographers what their settings were

I used to be that guy. When you’re new, it’s one thing to ask a more experienced photographer what his/her settings were in a specific image. However, trying to imitate those settings and applying them to any given situation is a recipe for disaster.

What you eventually learn is settings are situational. The best way to learn is to practice and practice a lot!

Don't ask what settings camera dials


4. Don’t obsess over gear

I’m still guilty of this today. I obsess over gear, but I’ve gotten much more strategic about it over the years. The latest and greatest cameras, lenses and lighting are all nice. They make getting the shot faster and more efficient. But they don’t make the photo — you the photographer do.

The best tool is the one between your ears, not the one in your hand. If you need inspiration with the gear you have, go to a photo site like Flickr or 500px. Seek out groups that use the gear you already have to remind you what’s possible. I’ve lost my interest in new gear when I’m reminded of how great my existing gear is.

5. Don’t waste time trying to impress other photographers

Here’s a friendly reminder — other photographers don’t write checks to you, your clients do. As cool as it may be to impress other photographers, remember, they’re not paying your bills. Your clients are. Focus your time, effort and energy on impressing them! They’re the only ones who truly matter.