Note from the Editor: this article is a little different than our usual dPS how to tutorials, more in line with personal growth. But see if there aren’t some things you can use and apply to you photography to help you take better photos.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
Often times we feel a desire to start from scratch and achieve something remarkable. As spring is approaching, use this time of increased motivation to think about your goals as a photographer.
Over a decade ago, The Dalai Lama shared with the world a set of simple guidelines to help you live a complete and meaningful life. In this article we look at 11 of those rules of living from a photographer’s perspective. Whenever you decide to take your time and set your priorities, read the advice of the world’s greatest wise man and project it on your own career and life activities.
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
Quitting your day job to start a photography business is a risky step accompanied by doubts and fear of failure. But if you’re firm about becoming a successful photographer, you just need to step out of your comfort zone. The ride to success will probably be harsh, but on the other hand, it will be fun! Just listen to your inner superhero and try to enjoy the very process of taking risk.
2. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
This advice isn’t as difficult to follow as you may think. These days blogging is a great way for people to spread their knowledge and exchange ideas. Being an active member on a photography forum, or supporting a photography related project (for instance, Defrozo calls all photographers to help them build the ultimate photography marketing platform) are also good opportunities for any photographer to do good for the community. After all, what goes around comes around.
3. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Screwed up a photo shoot? That’s not a reason for giving up, as failing can teach you so much more than success. Analyze your missteps, do your best to fix them, and prepare more carefully next time. Yes, that mistake can leave a bitter aftertaste for a long time, but after all, you would never feel good without feeling bad.
4. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.
Respect for self ensures determination, which is crucial to success. For instance, if you set your prices too low, people may think you’re not confident about your professionalism and thus, would not commit capturing their memories to you.
Even if you’re not sharing the values and interests of people you work with, there must be something they can teach you, respect that.
Even if you’re a solopreneur, being responsible and respectful is essential for running a successful photography business.
5. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
I have a friend who couldn’t afford a Canon 5D MarkII a few years ago, which pushed him to seek other ways to reach the image he envisioned. As a result, he improved his skills drastically and even won a prestigious photography contest. He now owns a studio now and his business is growing fast. My friend is pretty sure he wouldn’t have reached this point if he had bought that camera and let it do the job for him. The moral of this story is that something you consider a lost opportunity may in reality be a chance to win. Just stay positive and keep your eyes wide open.
6. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Did you know that Picasso mastered the illusion of volume just to learn how to flatten it in his paintings? Like with any art, in photography any rule can be broken – as long as it’s broken intentionally. If you’re looking for an innovative approach and want to go out of the box with your composition and lighting, you have to know where the box’s limits are.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Everyone could make a mistake, but not anyone could immediately react and correct it. It’s all about taking responsibility for your own actions. If the final photos don’t meet the expectations of your customer and you know it’s your fault, do something to fix it and do it fast. A free compensatory session or a small sorry gift can help you own the situation. Quick reaction will speak of your integrity – it won’t be left unnoticed.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
I’m sure you know how it feels when creative ideas flow out of you like a stream. I think you can also remember the tough periods of creative block when it seems you’re unable to produce anything new or interesting. Every creative experiences these ebbs and flows of inspiration. Some solitude during your day can be a great practice to help you stay balanced and productive.
9. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
Seeing new places and faces, discovering new cultures and atmospheres is extremely important for any photographer. So do your best to not get stuck in the routine, and go to a new destination at least once a year, even if it’s a small village not far from your habitat.
10. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
Success is always about making sacrifices and compromises. However, it’s up to you to decide how much to give up on the way to it. Your own photography business will require you to be a wearer of many hats, it will also soak up tons of your time and energy. But if it pushes you to compromise your loved ones or life values, stop and think whether it will be a success at all if it’s achieved this way.
11. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Change is an essential part of any business, especially when you work in the creative field. Embrace new technologies and don’t miss an opportunity to boost up your marketing, but don’t betray your values as they are the first to speak of your personality and brand.
The Dalai Lama’s rules of living are not novelties, it’s something we’ve all heard at least once during a lifetime. However, we often forget or fail to apply these laws in our daily routine. So having these simple truths listed in one place which you can get back to once in a while may help you be a better person and achieve more in life. Do you agree? Share your own life lessons and favorite quotes in the comments!