My 50 Lessons from 30+ years as a wedding
and portrait photographer…(so far…)
LESSON #1: Follow your gut – it’s usually right. If you only look outside for answers,
if you only follow the crowd, you merely become a number. One of the masses.
LESSON #2: Look at your competition and ask yourself how you can make your
product/service/offer 10 times better. Then do it! Don’t base all your decisions on them.
Use what they are doing, and not doing, for creative ideas. Swiping is allowed!
LESSON #3: Treat your clients how you would treat your own family. Never, ever take
them for granted.
LESSON #4: Marketing is an ongoing process, NOT just a one-time campaign. It is not
a simple 1-2-3 easy process. It is more a strategic skillset. Know this, master this, and
you have one of the best tools available, no matter what business, what projects you take on in life.
LESSON #5: Never, every get attached to your idea. If it’s not working, trash it and keep
moving your feet. Let it go. Too many business ideas go down in flames with the owner
because they held on too long and their egos got it the way.
LESSON #6: Read at least one new book a week if possible. Books are a wealth
of new ideas and power. Read stories from other successful business strategists and
LESSON #7: Find a way to create continuity income in your studio through programs
and memberships. It’s everything and is the basis for on going long term growth and
LESSON #8: If you have an idea, take instant action on it. Put it into motion because
someone else also has the idea too – and they will beat you to it if you sit on your butt too
LESSON #9: Think long-term wealth strategy. Have a long term plan. Create products
and services that you believe in. Use suppliers who have products and services that you
believe in and treat them like gold.
LESSON #10: Guard your time. When you’re working on the marketing and strategy
of your business, turn the phone and social media off. Have a regiment for maximum
time management and stick to it. The biggest time wasters are television and idle chit
LESSON #11: Be different and be bold. Boldness has genius. When you believe in
yourself, even in the face of horrendous criticism from others, help will come. If you
believe in you.
LESSON #12: Be proud of what you created. IN business your products, your services,
every move, every action is a reflection of who you are. If you feel the need to hide or
hang your head in shame, you’re in the wrong business.
LESSON #13: Perfection is an illusion and a myth. A fantasy. Your product will NEVER
be perfect. Accept it. Deal with it. Keep moving on.
LESSON #14: Unless you know what you’re doing, don’t throw money into your
business idea and start-up. You should be broke and it should be hard. The lessons you
will learn during those initial days are your BEST lessons that will carry you in a
LESSON #15: Be prolific and endlessly creative in your output. This means blog posts,
social media updates. Emails. Never stop keeping in touch with others.
LESSON #16: You have nothing much without your health. Eat better. Exercise more. No
LESSON #17: Create multiple streams of revenue.This takes a true entrepreneurial
thinking process. Most depend on security. You need to be pro-active and think long term, on your own, using both marketing strategies and investing that is sound.
LESSON #18: Watch your ego. Pride and ego are killers and will eventually be the root
cause of your failure. It ain’t such a big deal, nor are you.
LESSON #19: Sleep is good. Value a good night sleep. Your bedroom is a sacred place
where you regain, revitalize and energize.
LESSON #20: Learn to say no. There are more opportunities than time. Being assertive is one of the best sources of personal power that everyone has available, if they just reach out and grab it.
LESSON #21: Have powerful and inspiring role models to look up to and to model.
LESSON #22: Fire clients who treat you, your staff or fellow clients disrespectfully. It’s
not worth it. The customer isn’t always right. Sometimes they are just dead wrong and you shouldn’t be the one they walk all over.
LESSON #23: There’s no better skill set than being a good communicator. Master the art
of public speaking. It is NOT something you are born with. It is a skill you get good at
through practice. It’s that simple. Scary, yes, but simple. Just do it.
LESSON #24: Be transparent. Tell them WHY you are doing what you do. Everything
has a reason and people respond to reasons why something is done a certain way.
LESSON #25: Stop listening to talk radio and listen to positive, empowering audio
programs in your car.
LESSON #26: Create a list of your own things you will NOT do for money.
LESSON #27: Everything in moderation INCLUDING moderation.
LESSON #28: Eliminate negative people from your life (if you can’t avoid them, then limit time with them)
LESSON #29: Set money aside for taxes.
LESSON #30: Technology changes – but people don’t. It always has been and will always
be about building trust and relationships.
LESSON #31: People will buy because of your products, your offers, your service, but
they will stick around because they like you.
LESSON #32: Never let the lawyers and accountants run your business.
LESSON #33: Have goals. Goals are your compass. Without them your might as will be
aimlessly drifting at the mercy of the tides and currents, risking all sorts of perils. Every
year create a new set of goals. Write them down. Look at them daily.
LESSON #34: Don’t let failure beat you. Failures are nothing more than lessons. One of
my favorite sayings is from Think & Grow Rich (the greatest business book ever written!)
which states: “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on
an equal or greater benefit.”
LESSON #35: Never quit. Unless you find yourself in a bad plan or idea and realized
you’ve made a mistake and are willing to learn from it. Otherwise, be committed.
LESSON #36: Always be learning. Your mind is your greatest asset, why waste it. We
spend thousands of dollars on our outside, and very little on what’s inside, and what
matters most is inside.
LESSON #37: Be grateful. Gratitude increases you chances of receiving more good
things in your life. If you are wanting, then you aren’t filled with gratitude. Gratitude
creates a sort of detachment so your goals, dreams and wishes can happen on their own.
LESSON #38: Clean up your messes. Messes are like giant mountains placed between
you and your goals and prosperity. Cars, homes, work. Inside of you, you are as strong as your weakest link or darkest secret. You can not achieve any progress until you “clear” the way.
LESSON #39: Figure out what you want in life, dedicate yourself to it, find your path
a stick to it. Whether we beat anyone else, really will not matter. It’s your own game.
LESSON #40: Stop seeking approval. Don’t walk around doings things so that the social group will accept you. Don’t hang onto people or be clingy. Likewise, stop giving
approval to get it.
LESSON #41: If you find yourself whining or bitching, that is YOUR perception of the
situation, not the situation itself. It’s about you, not what’s going on outside yourself.
LESSON #42: Objectify your demons so you control them instead of them controlling
you. Demon: something that holds you back; takes over and feeling like you are loosing
LESSON #43: Become selfish so that you can become generous. This is NOT egocentric and ultra-narcissistic, where you don’t do anything for anyone else. This is about making yourself important, a priority in your life, so that you can give the most to others.
LESSON #44: Discipline means doing the right thing even if you don’t feel like doing them.
LESSON #45: The best preventative medicine for business problems and personal stress is preparation and organization. The best antidote is action.
LESSON #46: Compare your progress and success only to yourself, not to others. There are two types of winning: You achieve what you set out to, or you beat someone else. If you spend your life trying to beat everyone else, and not trying to achieve what you want in life, do you really win?
LESSON #47: Problems can be overcome by taking bold, courageous, individual action.
Do ALL you CAN do with whatever you have available, not wishing for what is not
LESSON #48: You are exactly what you believe and think about all day long. Constantly monitor your thoughts.
LESSON #49: The most important question to ask on the job is not “what am I getting?” The most important question to ask is “Who am I becoming?”
LESSON #50: If people knew how much poison there was in their “buts”, they’d soon
realize how it truly limits and affects their destiny, drive and ability to succeed at
whatever it is they truly wish for.
BONUS LESSON: Find your purpose. Do this, and you will find focus, clarity and drive.
Others will ‘feel it’, sense it, and they, along with the universe, destiny and everyday
activities, will clear a path for you. Only YOU can see, feel, and tap into this. Do this and
others will get it.
Yours in success and in photography