How I got my PhD in the “How-To-Business” of Photography

***New series every Monday for the next 5 weeks*** Part 2 of 5
read part 1 (HERE)

(without getting into debt or going to school and how you can do it to)

The next ten years I would rise in the rank of working crazy nonstop hours. Opportunities to teach, hire and fire other photographers became my education for professional development. The repetition of working in that small and defined studio space would enthrall me to do more creatively…daily. The lack of options became a force to push my thinking and composition forward. That phrase “think outside the box” means nothing to me today. Now I tell people to cut the box in half and then do something creative. That impresses me.

I worked with advertising for this company, wrote marketing and promotional materials, got on and off planes. I attended meeting after meeting and spent days listening to excuse after excuse about the “why and whatnots” of every situation.

It was a PhD in the “how-to-business” of photography.

This story is a culmination of what I learned that I carry with me today, twenty years later.

Forgive me for generalizing here, but in my experience 80% of the photographers I met hated working with people. They hated thinking that photography is a service industry equivalent to working at The Gap (P.S. no disrespect to The Gap, I love your chinos). They hated the compositional aspect of taking a photograph. They hated the effort it took to bring a great photograph out of someone. They loved the darkroom, post production and talking about the darkroom and post-production techniques. The smell of darkroom chemicals on an interviewee was not a good sign of a job offer coming your way.

Most of the photographers that I was interviewing were talented and educated with advanced degrees. I am only now getting to the technical level that those photographers were achieving and I was a good photographer back then.

They would humbly hang their heads in the interview, knowing that their professional life has sunken to the lowest level of photography. A paycheck is a paycheck and it’s nice to earn money when you’re selling out. Not a great attitude to have when you’re trying to earn a living.

Insanely useful photography tip #2: Composition, service and being nice trump tools and experience every time. (FYI: learn to use your tools)

During those ten years I talked and worked with a lot of photographers. I talked with even more photography customers. This is what I learned…

Photography clientele want the photos they want, they expect you to capture the moment and save the memory. Do your job. Create something. All photography clientele want this. They want the job done they way they want it, with a smile.

To be continued…

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Part 3 of 5 next Monday…