A couple weeks ago, I posed a question on my Facebook Fanpage and asked if photographers could ask One Photographer, One Question, what would it be. The Discussion Board turned into something a little different, but it's all good! People started asking me questions (instead of asking others), so I decided to grab a few a post them here on my blog. I've had a fanpage for just over a month and it's been incredible to see the action on the Discussion Board, which has turned into a place for people to connect, ask questions, and offer advice...I love it! Be sure to pop on over and check it out!
Where do you start in becoming networked with other photographers who see you not as your competition but as their peer?
This is a difficult question to answer because there isn't just one response. There are a myriad of ways, but I think the most important is for a photographer to simply focus on what she's doing, and do it right. The minute a business person tries to convince another that she's a peer, it automatically disqualifies her attempts. It's like when I try to convince my friends I'm a great singer...I tell them so often of my greatness that they're well aware I'm going to suck by the mere fact that I'm all up in their faces about it. If I were to, say, sing quietly while I washed the dishes after a dinner party and they took notice, they'd think I was the next Whitney Houston. Obviously. In like manner, if a photographer runs his business and works hard at creating his work, others will notice and equate him as a peer, not merely someone trying to esteem himself by the use of his own smoke and mirrors.
Is there ONE thing that you attribute more than anything else to your fast success??
I wouldn't say there was ONE thing that attributed to my growth, but I can definitely say creating an online presence helped me in more ways than I could ever imagine. When I first started my blog, I wrote about 3-4 times a week about my life, not about photography (well, because, I was just starting and didn't really have anything to show). I wrote about my struggles, my hope, and what I ate for dinner. It was so totally random, but I it helped readers connect with who I was a person, not a photographer. Once I launched my photography website, it further defined who I was both personally and professionally. Adding seasoning to this mix are online networks like Facebook and Twitter, which allows me to connect with clients, prospective clients, and photographers alike.
I believe growth is directly proportionate to effort, and exerting effort online is relatively easy with minimal risk...and greater odds for success! :)
What in your opinion is your competitive advantage? I'm going to ask a side-question as well that is related, but what do other professionals and/or your clients say draws them to you?
I'm going to be really, reeeeally honest right now. I don't have a competitive advantage. There are literally thousands of photographers here in Southern California. All who take good photos. Many of who shoot with the same camera I do. Most of who edit in Photoshop the way I do. All of who love the art of photography just as much as I do. What sets me apart? ME. So, if this can be a considered a competitive advantage, then by all means, I'll rock it out. However, this also means that anyone can be their own competitive advantage...which is awesome! Everyone is truly and uniquely created and that's precisely what photographers should leverage as they're greatest competitive advantage.
Do you think that a photographer can become well known outside of CA or New York?
Yes. There are a ton of amazing and spectacular photographers around the nation who are creating waves and their names are highly regarded in the industry. I, however, want to point out that a common thread these photographers have is their innate ability to focus on their work, not on getting others to focus on their work. The mark of an awesome photographer is someone who is elevated by others, and not himself...someone who doesn't give a rip about medals and awards and, instead, shoots for herself.
Like I mentioned before, there are a TON of successful non-CA/NY photographers around the US, but here are a few that just few that blow my mind:
LaCour - Atlanta, GA
F8 Studio - Dallas, TX
JVS Pictures - Houston, TX
How do you balance photography with married life? I find that I either focus on one a lot or one the other but can't find the balance I need to steadily work on both at once.
Well, I'll be the first person to admit me and Balance are sometimes adversaries...and she's given me a black eye from our brawls in the past. However, I try extraordinarily hard to keep life balanced by maintaining a very scheduled and organized lifestyle. JD sometimes refers to me as The Machine. As in, don't get in my way because I may just RUN YOUR OVER WITH MY CALENDAR AND POST-IT NOTES. Monday through Friday are work days for me and I treat them as such, which means I wake up and start the work day as if I had any other job. Here's what an average work day looks like for me (and, no, not everyday is a work day as I have shoots and extended meetings some days):
Wake Up (it's just the time my body naturally arises...I abhor the alarm clock!) and Pray
Email (I dedicate just a small segment of my day to email...anything I don't finish in this time is transferred to the next day, unless it is a business or client email which gets answered in 24 hours)
Walk Polo with JD (this is one of my favorite times of the day...25 minutes to map out my goals for the day and simply enjoy time with my boys)
Walk Polo with JD (another opportunity to take a break from my computer and breathe a little in the warm sun)
Edit/Process/Meetings (if applicable)
Walk Polo with JD and Dinner
I will definitely close my computer at 6:30pm...most of the time. Yes, there are days when I need to cram work out for a deadline, but other than that, I try to keep the evenings for my family. I work long, hard hours, but I need to ensure I carve time to enjoy my evenings and just check out.
It's of utmost importance to keep your loved ones in the forefront of your life and when I first started my business, I lost sight of this notion. I was buried in work, glued to my computer, and generally frustrated. The minute I started organizing my life, prioritizing my work, and outsourcing, I gained back everything I wanted: Freedom to choose the lifestyle I wanted. There are days when JD and I decide to take an extended lunch in Newport Beach or watch a matinee or simply sit in a park under a tree. Having structure provides me the luxury of looking at my week and knowing where I can splurge and skimp, and always keep my family first.