Some of You Need to Stop Apologizing!

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I had a couple of short conversations with some relatively new photographers just before Thanksgiving and in both conversations they apologized for not having a formal education in photography. One of them even gave me a sort of apology for being a wedding photographer, “I started out wanted to do fashion work, but it was just too competitive a market!”

Okay, time to square things away a little bit.

  • Nobody cares about your pedigree! My buddy Scott Bourne wrote in a blog post a couple of years ago about photography being the great equalizer. Scott’s point was simply that it doesn’t matter what your pedigree is, you’re going to be judged on the quality of your images. It doesn’t matter what you look like, your education, financial status or often, even your gear. The key is going to be the impact of the photographs you share.
  • Self-taught vs. formal education? The key to being a great photographer is rooted in your passion for the craft. There are plenty of very successful artists out there who didn’t graduate from a photo school! I’m not knocking a formal education in photography, but there’s nothing wrong with solid hands-on experience either. In fact, many of you have put in more hours to build your experience/education by attending workshops, conventions, online webinars and watching every possible video you can get access to.
  • Wedding vs. any other specialty? This is one that irritates the crap out of me. (Trust me, I cleaned that up!) Somewhere years ago wedding photographers started acting like they were second class citizens, usually when talking to other photographers. I’m not sure why, because in all honesty, being a great wedding photographer is one of the toughest specialties. First, you’ve got to build trust with the client at a time when they’re the most emotional. Second, you’ve got virtually no control over when or where you’re shooting. Your success is going to be based on your storytelling skills and your technique in capturing memories. Third, you’ve got no control over what your subjects look like; what they’re wearing; or their mood swings. You can’t hire models to fill in if the family of the bride just doesn’t like being photographed.

I know this is starting to sound like a rant, but let’s wrap it up with a Zig Ziglar quote:

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” 
Stop apologizing for being involved in one of the most amazing career fields in the world. Keep working on your skill set. Don’t let anyone step on your dreams of being an artist. Build relationships with your clients, vendors and other artists.  

And, on those days when you feel a little overwhelmed, maybe even a little burned out, take your camera and just find a fun place to shoot. Take yourself back to what sparked your love for photography in the first place. For me it’s any place near the water, which is why I love living in Florida and being near beaches like the image I used with today’s post.

Remember, with the exception of modern medicine, nobody has given the world more than photographers. You’re the magicians who stop time and take intangible memories and turn them into tangible products people can savor for a lifetime!

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