Wondering what types of characteristics make up those who find success in photography (and in life)?

If you’re looking for us to tell you the PERFECT lens or camera body, or what killer pose is going to get your photograph to go viral, you’re in the wrong place. The thing is, it’s not the gear or the perfect backdrop that’s going to make you a success in photography. It is pure hard work and things that you can do every day to keep you moving forward in a positive direction.

1. Personal responsibility.

Successful people take responsibility for their actions. They don’t make excuses, for themselves or others. Here’s the thing, when you’re making excuses, your shifting blame and then you aren’t forced to look at yourself as the problem.  But it’s only when you look at yourself, can you shift and stop making the same mistakes that are holding you back.

success in photography

Once upon a time, I hired someone for a service that I took VERY seriously. In fact, it was the BIGGEST deal in my life at the time. This person talked a great game, and I was fooled. And then the excuses came flooding in. They were always late, didn’t come prepared, lost equipment they needed to complete the job…and ALWAYS blamed someone or something else. It was exhausting and VERY unprofessional. Needless to say, I had to cut my losses and hire someone else and didn’t recommend them to ANYONE.

Own your stuff, in life and your business…it’s called being a mature adult.

2. Successful people take care of themselves.

Wait a second, how does this relate to success in photography? This relates to successful businesses in general. When you take care of yourself, both mentally and physically, that directly translates to all parts of your life. When you care enough about your mind and body, you have more energy and drive to take care of your business and your clients. You are motivated and willing to put in the hard work because you know it’s SO worth it.

3. They manage their time effectively.

Successful people make time for both work and PLAY but manage both very efficiently. They are typically organized and can easily block off time for work because they are doing something they know is making a difference in the world. They don’t waste time on things that aren’t propelling them into the future.

4. Wake up early and work hard consistently.

Does anyone know UBER successful people that wake up at noon? I mean, I suppose it’s possible, but I would also assume that those people work hard until 2 am consistently. Um, and can we talk about being a parent for a second? THAT is hard work. To find success in photography, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices, and this often means in the sleeping department. Managing time while parenting is undoubtedly difficult, but can be done if you’re committed. Even getting up one hour early, and working one hour past bedtime can add up to 14 extra hours a week that can be maximized.

success in photography

5. Quitting is NOT an option.

You’re not going to be an overnight success. Sure, we read all those stories, but for 99% of us, it doesn’t come that easy. It takes YEARS of hustle, sweat, and some tears. And if you think for one second, someone is just going to hand you money for your service because you built a website, think again. You know that cheesy line about the journey to finding happiness IS the journey itself? Well, it’s true. There is so much to be said for navigating years of ups and downs, getting those scars, and living to tell about them. The amount of knowledge you GAIN from the failures is where the real success comes.

6. They manage their money.

Successful people aren’t distracted by all the shiny stuff that the market is trying to sell us, or trying to keep up with their neighbor who just bought a fancy boat. They are focused on success, growth and improving people’s lives through their product or work. They make logical decisions and don’t throw their money down the drain on the next “fad” that is going to make them the best photographer in their area.

7. They surround themselves with confident and successful people.

People who surround themselves with positive and uplifting support system have the network to fail. When you have any number of people to give you a pep talk or pick you up after a MAJOR blow, you find that strength in yourself.  Having negative, critical and judgmental people are NOT helping in any way, I promise you. They are projecting their fears and disappointments on you and your business and should be kicked to the curb. But what if they’re part of your family? Then you make a decision. You allow it to happen, try your best to ignore, or you put up distinct boundaries that keep you from the negativity. Successful people are assertive enough to not take crap from those trying to rain on their parade. This is YOUR life, not theirs, so stop letting them affect its outcome.

success in photography

8. They are positive.

There is ALWAYS a solution to every problem. There is no other option than to make things work. If you have constant negative commentary going on in your head 24/7 that is what you are going to act on…fear.  And acting on fear is NEVER going to get you anywhere.

9. They don’t take failure personally.

Success in photography means that when things don’t go well, you don’t take it personally. Sure, failure sucks, but how else do we learn unless we screw it up now and again? Ask me what prompted me to learn about light? Having THE worst session of my photography career. It was horrible; I was upset at myself for a few minutes and then decided that I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. It was by far the best failure I could ask for (upset client and all).

10. They take calculated risks.

Taking calculated risks is the fun part of running your own business. Taking a risk can be considered thinking outside of the box or even being yourself! It’s a risk to put yourself out to the world unapologetically. We all at times feel judged or misunderstood, but we need to remember that following our passion because we FEEL in our soul is what feels risky…in the BEST way possible. It’s scary!

11. They don’t care about what others think.

Your sister may think you’re insane to start a business, or your mother in law doesn’t take you seriously (hummm, this sounds oddly familiar to me), and you can’t give ONE s$&%. Y’all, there are, what, SEVEN billion people in the world, and ALL of them have opinions. If you start listening to all of them, I suspect you won’t get much done. Drown it out and keep11 going!

success in photography

12. Successful people rise to the occasion.

They don’t get in their own heads. They rise to the occasion, despite feeling like a fraud, and most importantly, they don’t listen to negative self-talk! Nobody has time for that nonsense!

13. They don’t care about what others are doing!

Seriously, they really don’t. Sure, we can know what the competition is doing, but following their every move is a waste of precious time and energy. They don’t obsess about what others are doing or thinking. They put the blinders on and just keep moving forward. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy!

Success in photography is entirely achievable. We so often get down on ourselves, and compare ourselves with others until we’re blue in the face…and that’s NOT productive. What is productive is ALWAYS committing to move forward in a positive direction. Sure, we’re going to get knocked on our butts big time, but that’s the beauty of life. You can appreciate the ups unless you conquer all the downs.