Lessons From A Year of creativeLIVE

I first stumbled upon creativeLIVE a little over a year ago at the suggestion of a fellow Canadian photographer. Since then I’ve been a faithful viewer of almost every workshop. The funny thing is even though I am not a wedding, fashion, or portrait photographer, I still find myself drawn to workshops on those topics. creativeLIVE offers something for every photographer – and every creative. After numerous workshops from leading photographers in their respective fields, certain wisdoms have started to repeat themselves. If a dozen of successful people are all preaching the same things, there must be some truth in them:

1. Show what you want to shoot:  Show the type of work you want to be doing in your portfolio, because clients will ask for what they see. Too many photographers show portraits on their site when they want to shoot fashion, then they wonder why they only get portrait clients. Curate a strong body of images that represent what you want to be shooting.

2. Give yourself the dream assignment: If you haven’t had the chance to photograph the type of work you want to be doing, stop waiting for that ideal client or assignment to come along –  give yourself that dream assignment, because nobody else is going to give it to you.

Nanjing, China

3. Ambition trumps talent: Bad images will not sell, but good technique alone will not build a successful business either. The photographers on creativeLIVE built their businesses on ambition – so many of them taught themselves how to use the camera, learned to market their products, and when they have failed, they started all over again.

4. Fear is okay: We are all afraid of something: failure, success, judgement, rejection. Even the best of the best have those fears. Starting your own business is scary, changing careers is scary – there is comfort in knowing that it’s okay to feel that way.

5. Simplify: Pricing sheets are complicated. Product selection is confusing. The delivery of images take forever. Why do we make doing business so complicated? Keep pricing sheets simple and products straightforward to understand. This will make you and the clients much happier.

6. Limitations only exist in your mind: Many famous photographers started off with very little: little money, no technical knowledge, no industry contacts, and the slightest idea about running a business. They managed to work through all those limitations and get to where they are today. So don’t get stuck with “I don’t have a studio” or “I don’t know any magazine editors”. You’re only holding yourself back with your attitude – open your mind to a world of possibilities.Changsha Streets, China

Paris, at night

7. Be niche: Don’t try to appeal to everyone. You don’t need everyone to be your client. Pick a specialization and become very good with it. Why do we think we can do both portrait and fashion photography? The clients are different, as is the product. And a bride would probably rather go to a wedding photographer who specializes in weddings than go to someone who photographs weddings, seniors, and babies.

8. Charge your worth: It is easy to devalue creative services and worst of all, sometimes we devalue our own services. Value your work because images carry value – charge what you know you’re worth.

9. Create an emotion, don’t sell a picture: Selling is difficult and I hate selling. I also happen to hate that word. No matter who the client is, never sell an image. Instead, tell a story, create an experience, stir up an emotion. And you’ll never have to sell anything again.

10. Never stop learning: Even a seasoned photographer can learn something new. So never stop seeking knowledge. And if you need a place of learning to get you started, try creativeLIVE.

PragueNew York from the Rock


10 responses to “Lessons From A Year of creativeLIVE

  1. Tracy – what a beautiful summary of what you and so many others around the world have learned from creativeLIVE in 2012. THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts. I will definitely share your post with my cL peeps via social media and ask everyone what THEIR biggest lessons from creativeLIVE 2012 are. Thank you and here’s to SO MUCH MORE learning on creativeLIVE in 2013!

  2. Great summary, this is just the basics of what all the incredible professionals have shared with us in CreativeLive. I’ve learned so much so far, and looking forward to learn a lot more =)

  3. “…tell a story, create an experience, stir up an emotion. And you’ll never have to sell anything again.” ~ beautifully said thank you

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