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5 Mindset Shifts You Need to Be Successful in Photography

You love photography. You live it, you breathe it, and it’s all you can ever think of doing in your life. And you’re good – better than some of the other people you know who also love photography.

But despite all this you feel… stuck. You’re not booking jobs, getting clients or making money. And when you post your best work on social media all you hear are crickets.

So what’s the problem? Well, it may surprise you to hear it may not be a technical issue at all but rather an issue with your subconscious.Karthika Gupta Photography - mindset shifts to be successful in photography

Today I want to talk about how you can totally transform your life, your relationships and your work. It isn’t a course you can take or a YouTube video you can watch. It’s something that’s free, powerful, and completely within your control.

Changing your mindset.

Thinking differently can have a profound effect on your entire life. But here are five mindset shifts you need to be successful in photography.

1. Practice Makes Perfect

There really are no two ways about this. The best way to get better at something is to do it over and over again. The more you get out there and photograph, the more you’ll understand what you like, what makes you happy and what areas you need to improve in. Want to understand light and how it affects photos? Go out and photograph in different kinds of light. Want to photograph people? Set up shoots and practice photographing people. The more you do, the more you create and the better you become.

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This was my client’s favorite photo from her photoshoot. It showcased her artwork in a unique way. The more you practice, the more you’ll start telling stories in your unique way.

One of the easiest ways to practice photography is to sign up for a 365 series, which is a commitment to create one photo every day for 365 days. You can use a DSLR, a point-and-shoot camera, or even a smartphone.

You can even take it a step further by joining one of the many online groups available. They’re created solely to encourage you to photograph and post a single photo every day for 365 days straight. They even provide photo prompts to help you stay on track so you’re constantly thinking of what to photograph.

Karthika Gupta Photography - mindset shifts to be successful in photography

Practice also makes you more confident. Now when I see a story play out, I’m not afraid to ask my clients or strangers to be actors in the story. A pub became a scene for some unique wedding photos for my clients.

One of my goals is to learn film photography. I have an old 35mm Canon AE-1, and I have run several rolls of film to try and get images that I love. The first time I used that camera, I didn’t even wind the film correctly. So I ended up sending a blank roll of film to be processed. That was $20 well spent.

2. Overnight Success is a Myth

This ties to the first point. You must be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort to get your work seen and acknowledged. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be an overnight success with lots of clients and potential work  lining up. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the probability is quite low. So instead of leaving your career to chance, why not take matters into your own hands and have a plan to do the work consistently? Learn all there is to learn about what you want to focus on in your photography and consistently put out good work.

Karthika Gupta Photography - mindset shifts to be successful in photography

It’s taken me several years and thousands of photos to train my brain to recognize light and create a story before I even click the shutter. This is one of my favorite photos that I call ‘Light and shadow: Ride and rider’. To me it shows the symbiosis between these two pairs.

3. Healthy Competition is a Good Thing

In any given industry there’s always competition. Sometimes the competition plays fair, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone or anything. I’m just stating the obvious.

Most people who picks up a camera intent on becoming a photographer do it for the money, the fame, or some combination of the two. Learn to play well with your competition. What sets you apart isn’t your skills or technique. Anyone can learn to do something if they put their mind and effort into it. What sets you apart is you. Your style, your aesthetic and the way you view something is unique. There will be clients who love what you do because of the way you do it, and there will be those who’d rather go with the other guy. That’s just part of the game. Accept it, and make friends with your competitors. It’s better to have friends in the industry you’re playing in than enemies.

Karthika Gupta Photography - mindset shifts to be successful in photography

I’d heard of double exposure before, but I never understood it until a friend and fellow photographer sat down with me and explained it step by step. Now it’s one of my favorite ways of creative photography, and my clients love it.

4. Go With the flow

I wish someone told me this when I first started my business. I was caught up in perfection – the perfect logo, the perfect website, the perfect portfolio, a printing vendor, business cards, etc. I spent so much time making sure all my ducks were in a row that I stalled the process more than I helped it along. Having a vision of what I wanted to do was getting lost in actually doing the project.

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, figure out what the big picture is, and then keep moving along to achieving it. Perfection is a myth. Nothing is perfect, and it’s much better to get something done and accomplished than to wait until everything falls into place. Just keep moving along towards your goal.

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Things always work out exactly how they’re meant to be in the end.

5. Have a Positive Attitude

Our life is a reflection of our attitude. Without even noticing, it’s easy to become negative and bitter towards the world and the photography industry. Why are some people more successful than us? Why do some photographers get all the jobs? Why can’t I book more clients? The questions can go on forever.

Not only does a negative attitude stop you from enjoying your life, it can also have a significant impact on your work and your craft. After all, you love this art form. That’s why you’re here, right? You want to learn, engage, and get better at it. The energy a person brings with them is contagious. We all have bad days, no matter how people portray themselves. Every time I feel angry or jealous of someone else’s success, I remind myself that just because I can see what they’ve accomplished doesn’t mean I know what they’ve gone through and sacrificed to get there. One of the best things you can do for your passion for photography is to have a positive attitude.

Karthika Gupta Photography - mindset shifts to be successful in photography

You’ll find that happy medium of working with people who really appreciate what you do and love your work. They are your ideal clients.

I hope some of these mindset shifts help you navigate the choppy photography waters. Remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Success in any shape or form takes a lot of time and hard work. Roll up your sleeves, work your hardest, and you will get there.

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Karthika Gupta
Karthika Gupta

is a culture, people and travel photographer, based in the Chicago area. Her images are fun, fresh and natural, and her love for nature makes it way into most of her images. She also has a Free Travel Photography Demystified E-Course, a 5-Day video series to help you improve your travel photography.

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